Children’s Rights filed this class action in August of 2005, together with a broad coalition of local advocates, when a new Missouri law threatened to cut off critical adoption subsidies for special needs foster children. The federal complaint asserts that the law, known as Senate Bill 539, violates the rights of children under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act (as amended), and the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Children’s Rights secured initial temporary orders preventing the law from taking effect until the trial. Shortly thereafter, Children’s Rights won class certification so that the case could proceed on behalf of the thousands of children who would be hurt by the new law. Following a federal trial in April of 2006, the plaintiff children won on all legal claims and the court permanently banned the adoption subsidy provisions of Senate Bill 539 from ever taking effect.
The defendant — Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services K. Gary Sherman — immediately appealed the ruling, but the appeal was later withdrawn and the permanent ban on Senate Bill 539 remains in place.