symposium; family law; public policy


The U.S. Supreme Court case Moore v. City of East Cleveland has long been celebrated as affirming constitutional rights related to family integrity. The Moore holding specifically confirmed the Court’s obligation to scrutinize housing ordinances that regulate a traditional family’s household composition. By comparison and extension, one might assume that alternative family formations would trigger similar scrutiny, but the Court has been loath to extend these protections. Apart from the Court’s failure to increase protections beyond traditional extended families, an interesting phenomenon has gone largely unexplored in this jurisprudential framework. In the wake of late twentieth-century mass incarceration, lawmakers and courts have failed to protect the rights of any family—traditional, extended, or otherwise—that is burdened by criminal justice involvement. Given the decision in Moore, this paradox is especially ironic and poignant with regard to challenges related to maintaining family integrity in the housing context.