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provisions of new Jersey’s welfare reform law, the Work First New Jersey Act, which ended the state’s practice of increasing welfare assistance when a recipient had additional children, did not violate the New Jersey Constitution’s equal protection and due process guarantees, the New Jersey Supreme Court held on Aug. 4. Sojourner A. v. New Jersey Dep’t of Human Servs., No. A-160-01. Sojourner A. and Angela B., women who received welfare benefits in New Jersey, sued the state’s Department of Human Services in a class action, alleging that the welfare reform law violated the New Jersey Constitution. The lawcapped the amount of aid a mother received at the amount she received when she first became a welfare beneficiary, which was based on the number of children she had at the time. The mothers alleged that the law was unconstitutional because it penalized them for exercising their fundamental right to bear children. Trial and intermediate courts held for the state, and the recipients appealed. Holding that the law did not violate New Jersey’s Constitution, the high court declared that even if the law’s benefit caps influenced a recipient’s procreative decisions, there was no unconstitutional burden placed on that decision. Noting that “working families do not receive automatic wage increases when additional children are born,” the court said the law merely put recipient families on even footing with working families, adding, “This case is not about a woman’s right to choose whether and when to bear children, but rather, about whether the State must subsidize that choice.”

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