Anderson v. Edwards, 514 U.S. 143, 14 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court


Respondents offer two alternative grounds to support the judgment below. Neither has merit, and we may dispose of them quickly.

First, respondents argue that the California Rule is an invalid expansion of the family filing unit rule, 42 U. S. C. 602(a)(38). According to respondents, when Congress decreed that all members of a nuclear family must be grouped together in a single AU, it intended to prevent States from including any additional persons in that AU (as does the California Rule). We reject the notion that Congress' directive regarding the composition of assistance units "occupied the field" and thereby pre-empted States from adopting any additional rules touching this area. What we said about "workfare" in New York State Dept. of Social Servs. v. Dublino, 413 U. S. 405, 414 (1973), applies here as well: "If Congress had intended to pre-empt state plans and efforts in such an important dimension of the AFDC program . . . , such intentions would in all likelihood have been expressed in direct and unambiguous language." The language of 602(a)(38) requires States to embrace the family filing unit rule; it does not further limit States' discretion in a direct or unambiguous manner.

Second, respondents argue that the California Rule violates two other federal regulations that require equitable treatment among AFDC recipients. See 45 CFR 233.10(a)(1) (1993) ("[T]he eligibility conditions imposed . . . must not result in inequitable treatment of individuals or groups"); 233.20(a)(1)(i) ("[T]he determination of need and amount of assistance for all applicants [must] be made on an objective and equitable basis"). Assuming that these provisions even "creat[e] a 'federal right' that is enforceable under

ists under which the [rule] would be valid"). Though an as-applied challenge that presented the opt-out issue in a concrete factual setting might require a court to decide it, such a challenge is not now before us.

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