ZABLOCKI v. REDHAIL

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
76-879
Appellant 
Roger C. Redhail
Appellee 
Thomas E. Zablocki
Advocates
(argued the cause for the appellant)
(argued the cause for the appellee)
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Term:
Facts of the Case 

Roger C. Redhail, a Wisconsin minor, fathered a child. A court ordered him to pay child support. Two years later, he applied for a marriage license in Milwaukee County. His application was denied by County Clerk Thomas E. Zablocki who declined to issue the license under a state statute on the ground that Redhail owed more than $3,700 in child support.. Redhail filed a class action in federal district court against Zablocki and all Wisconsin county clerks. The court ruled in Redhail's favor. Zablocki appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Question 

Did the Wisconsin statute violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Redhail, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

Yes. In an 8-1 decision, the Court held that Wisconsin's statute violated the Equal Protection Clause and reaffirmed that marriage was a fundamental right. In the majority opinion authored by Justice Thurgood Marshall, the Court emphasized marriage as part of the right to privacy found in the Fourteenth Amendment as identified in Griswold v. Connecticut. While the state has an interest in ensuring that child support obligations were fulfilled, this statute only regulated those who wished to be married and did not justify the restriction on the right to marriage as found in Loving v. Virginia.

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ZABLOCKI v. REDHAIL. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 20 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1977/1977_76_879>.
ZABLOCKI v. REDHAIL, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1977/1977_76_879 (last visited July 20, 2014).
"ZABLOCKI v. REDHAIL," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 20, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1977/1977_76_879.