Barry v. Lyon, No. 15-1390 (6th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), overseen by the USDA, is administered by the states, 7 U.S.C. 2011–2036c. An individual is ineligible for SNAP benefits if he is “fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody or confinement after conviction . . . for a crime, or attempt to commit a crime, that is a felony under the law of the place from which the individual is fleeing.” Michigan’s implementation barred assistance to anyone “subject to arrest under an outstanding warrant arising from a felony charge against that individual.” Michigan had an automated program that compared the list of public-assistance recipients with a list of outstanding felony warrants maintained by the Michigan State Police; when the program identified a match, it automatically closed the recipient’s file and generated a notice of the termination of benefits. In 2015 the Secretary of Agriculture promulgated 7 C.F.R. 273.11(n), clarifying disqualification of fugitive felons. Plaintiffs challenged Michigan's automatic disqualification and notice process. The court certified a class, held that Michigan policy violated the SNAP Act and the Constitution, and issued an injunction requiring Michigan to refrain from automatic disqualifications based solely on the existence of a felony warrant and to provide adequate notices of valid disqualification. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims that the plaintiffs lacked standing, of mootness, that there is no SNAP Act private right of action, and that Michigan's methods were valid.