1968 May 20

Supreme Court: “Illegitimate” Children Are Persons, Have Rights


In the case of Levy v. Louisiana, decided on this day, the Supreme Court held that, under the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, so-called illegitimate children were “persons” and thereby have a constitutional right to sue on behalf of their deceased parents.

Justice William O. Douglas for the Court: “We start from the premise that illegitimate children are not ‘nonpersons.’ They are humans, live, and have their being. They are clearly ‘persons’ within the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Learn more about children’s rights at the ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/human-rights/childrens-rights

Learn more about the history of civil liberties and the child welfare system: https://www.aclu.org/human-rights/aclu-history-child-welfare-institutions

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