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Henne v. Wright

United States Appeals Court for the Eighth Circuit
904 F.2d 1208 (1990)


Facts

Debra Henne (plaintiff) gave birth to a daughter, Alicia, in Lincoln, Nebraska, in April 1985. At the time, she was separated from her husband, Robert Henne. Alicia’s biological father, Gary Brinton, acknowledged paternity, and Mrs. Henne desired to give Alicia his surname, Brinton. On the basis of Nebraska state law, however, hospital personnel told Mrs. Henne that she was required to give Alicia the surname Henne because Debra and Robert Henne were still legally married. Linda Spidell (plaintiff) gave birth to a daughter, Quintessa, in Lincoln, Nebraska, in June 1988. She was unmarried at the time, and Quintessa’s paternity was not declared. Spidell desired to give Quintessa the surname McKenzie, which she had given to her other children born in California. None of the children had any relationship to a person named McKenzie; Spidell simply liked the name and wanted all children to share it. Hospital personnel refused to allow Spidell to give Quintessa the surname McKenzie. Quintessa was therefore surnamed Spidell. Henne and Spidell sued the state of Nebraska (defendant), alleging that the statute that prevented them from naming their children as desired violated a fundamental Fourteenth Amendment right. The decision of the district court was appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Bright, J.)

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Concurrence/Dissent (Arnold, J.)

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