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Caban v. Mohammed

441 U.S. 380 (1979)

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Caban v. Mohammed

United States Supreme Court

441 U.S. 380 (1979)

Facts

A New York statute concerned the adoption of a couple's children after the couple separated. If the couple had been married, the statute required each parent to consent to the adoption. If the couple had not married, the statute required only the mother's consent. The statute only permitted an unmarried father to offer evidence at the adoption hearing. Maria Mohammed (plaintiff) and Abdiel Caban (defendant) were unmarried partners who played similar parental roles in their children's lives. Mohammed and Caban separated, and each petitioned a family court for permission to adopt the children. Mohammed blocked Caban's petition by withholding her consent. Caban opposed Mohammed's petition and testified in court as to her unfitness as a parent. Nevertheless, the court found that Mohammed could best promote the children's interests, permitted her to adopt the children, and terminated Caban's parental rights. Caban appealed, contending that New York's statute violated his rights to due process and equal protection under the United States Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment. The state contended that the statute reflected the close biological tie mothers have to their children and that dispensing with the need for an unmarried father's consent promoted the state's interest in swiftly finding good adoptive homes. Both the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, and the New York Court of Appeals dismissed Caban's appeal, and Caban appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Stewart, J.)

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