CITY OF EAST CLEVELAND, OHIO V. MOORE resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision (31 May 1977) reversing an Ohio lower-court ruling and overturning an EAST CLEVELAND zoning ordinance that prohibited members of an extended family from living together in the same residence. The Court treated as fundamental the right to live in an extended family as opposed to a nuclear family. It ruled that no city should be allowed to force its adults and children to live within certain narrowly defined family patterns and recognized that the ordinance was discriminatory.
Inez Moore lived in East Cleveland with her son, Dale, Sr., and her 2 grandchildren, Dale, Jr., and his first cousin, John Moore, Jr. Early in 1973, Mrs. Moore received a notice of violation of the city's housing code ordinance, stating that John, Jr., was an "illegal resident." The zoning ordinance limited the definition of a family member to one related to the nominal head of the household, provided that such person is not part of the extended family. Moore refused to remove her grandson from her home, and the city of East Cleveland filed a criminal charge against her. Claiming that the ordinance was hostile and deprived her of the opportunity to live with her grandchildren, Moore attempted to have the charge dismissed on the grounds that the ordinance was constitutionally invalid. Her motion was overruled. Found guilty, she was given 5 days in jail and a $25 fine. Her conviction was upheld in the appeals court. The Ohio Supreme Court declined to review the case, thus setting up the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. In his opinion, Associate Justice Lewis Powell concluded that Moore had been deprived of her liberty in violation of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. The Court identified the fact that the zoning ordinance under dispute was clearly exclusionary in its attempt to restrict ethnic and racial minority groups by removing non-immediate family members from households.