New York State Department of Social Services v. Dublino (1973)

For recipients of federal AFDC benefits, federal work rules do not generally pre-empt state work rules. Unusually, post-enactment congressional legislative debates in reaction to the lower court decision influenced the Supreme Court. (Opinion was for two bundled cases.)

Citation: 413 U.S. 405 (1973)
Date decided: Jun 21, 1973
Longer case name: New York State Department of Social Services v. Dublino
Law type: Civil
Jurisdiction level:Federal
State of origin: New York
Topic(s):Federal pre-emption, Public assistance, and Work rules
Lists:Important cases
Attorneys:Dennis R. Yeager (National Employment Law Project) argued the cause and filed briefs for appellees in both cases.
Others involved:Steven J. Cole and Henry A. Freedman filed a brief for the National Welfare Rights Organization et al. as amici curiae urging affirmance in both cases.
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Case Importance

From Wikipedia: “This case is important for its use of post-enactment statutory interpretation. This type of legislative history is most commonly used by courts to determine what the congress who enacted the statute intended to include or not include in the statutory language; thus, it is a record of what occurred before the statute was enacted. The Court’s analysis centered heavily on Congressional debates about WIN that occurred after the statute had been passed. Subsequent history: The [Work Incentive Program work rules] WIN program was repealed by Congress on October 13, 1988.”

Case Details

(The syllabus is not part of the opinion, but is a summary prepared by the court reporter as a convenience.)

Together with No. 72-802, Onondaga County Department of Social Services et al. v. Dublino et al., also on appeal from the same court


The 1967 amendments to the Social Security Act included the Federal Work Incentive Program (WIN), designed to help individuals on welfare become wage-earning members of society. The States were required to incorporate this program into their Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) program, to provide that certain “employable” individuals, as a condition for receiving aid, shall register for manpower services, training, and employment. In 1971 New York enacted provisions of its Social Welfare Law, commonly referred to as the New York Work Rules, which similarly required cooperation by employable individuals to continue to receive assistance. Appellees, New York public assistance recipients subject to the Work Rules, challenge those Rules as having been pre-empted by the WIN provisions of the Social Security Act. The three-judge District Court ruled that “for those in the AFDC program, WIN pre-empts the New York Work Rules.” Held:

1. The WIN provisions of the Social Security Act do not pre-empt the New York Work Rules of the New York Social Welfare Law. Pp. 412-423.

(a) There is no substantial evidence that Congress intended, either expressly or impliedly, to pre-empt state work programs. More is required than the apparent comprehensiveness of the WIN legislation to show the “clear manifestation of [congressional] intention” that must exist before a federal statute is held “to supersede the exercise” of state action. Schwartz v. Texas, 344 U.S. 199, 202 -203. Pp. 412-417.

(b) Affirmative evidence exists to establish Congress’ intention not to terminate all state work programs and foreclose future state cooperative programs: WIN is limited in scope and application; [413 U.S. 405, 406] it is a partial program, with state supplementation, as illustrated by New York; and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, responsible for administering the Social Security Act, has never considered WIN as pre-emptive. Pp. 417-421.

(c) Where coordinate state and federal efforts exist within a complementary administrative framework in the pursuit of common purposes, as here, the case for federal pre-emption is not persuasive. Pp. 421-422.

2. The question of whether some particular sections of the Work Rules might contravene the specific provisions of the Social Security Act is not resolved, but is remanded to the District Court for consideration. Pp. 422-423.

348 F. Supp. 290, reversed and remanded.

Last modified: 2022-12-27 12:55
Case internal grade: A | Case internal status: OK |
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