Welfare: Revolt of the Nonpersons

Faced with a Kafkaesque maze of shifting restrictions and all-powerful bureaucracies, the nation's 8,000,000 welfare recipients have tended to become what Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas calls "constitutional nonpersons." Since the 1935 Social Security Act established the U.S. welfare system, federal officials, state agencies, municipal departments and even individual welfare workers have set up a profusion of separate standards as to who should and should not get aid.

Now the nonpersons are waking up to the fact that in many circumstances welfare is a legal right, based on need and enforceable by...

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