This seminar will provide an interactive opportunity to examine the complex legal and policy issues concerning the very topical issues of the entitlement to and administration of major public benefits programs - cash assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)(formerly known as Food Stamps), and Medicaid. The course will begin with a history and overview of the these programs, which are intended to meet the needs of this nation’s economically disadvantaged, including the implications of the current recession for these programs and the impact of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 [Health Care Reform]. The course will then examine the difficult legal issues concerning the operation of these programs and the intersection of critical constitutional rights.
Particular attention will be paid to procedural due process, property rights, and entitlement; equal protection analyses as well as family dignity, the right to privacy, race and gender, and immigrants’ rights. Additional discussion will examine the behavioral obligations imposed on recipients, including to work and the rights of recipients as workers. The course will also examine recent trends to limit access to the Courts and restrictions on enforceability of federal statutes and regulations, including an overview of leading Supreme Court cases. Throughout the course, particular attention will also be paid to strategic, tactical, and ethical questions that arise in bringing and prosecuting impact litigation, including, but not limited to: choice of forum, whether to seek class Certification, whether to forego an appeal, issue identification, the role of a press strategy, the inter-relationship of litigation and legislative advocacy, and relationships with community organizers. In addition, opportunities will arise to discuss whether litigation is an effective means to address poverty and to what extent a legal duty to alleviate poverty ought exist.
Requirements: Class attendance and participation are mandatory. A paper is required in the form of a brief from the perspective of plaintiffs or defendants on issues in current public benefits litigation. Paper length and deadline are set by the law school. The topic selections will be provided by the instructors and the final paper is due at the end of the semester. Grading is based on the paper and class participation.