living elsewhere, i.e. residential services, was actually increased. (Stip. para. 257-58). All of the members of both groups are highly dependent upon the defendants for habilitative services. Although they are similarly situated with respect to their need for habilitation, the defendants have not treated them similarly.
Defendants argue that since distinguishing the retarded according to residence involves no suspect or quasi-suspect classification, the determination is presumed valid and is beyond constitutional attack if the classification is "rationally related to a legitimate state interest." City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. 432, 439, 105 S. Ct. 3249, 3254, 87 L. Ed. 2d 313 (1985). When "the choice is clearly wrong, a display of arbitrary power, not an exercise of judgment," Mathews v. de Castro, 429 U.S. 181, 185, 97 S. Ct. 431, 434, 50 L. Ed. 2d 389 (1976), it will not meet the rational basis test.
The Court finds that the defendants' decision to discriminate against those mentally retarded clients whose families have the special love and capability to care for them at home is arbitrary and irrational. No legitimate factual distinction can be drawn between those at home and those in community residences with respect to the need for habilitation or the harm that will result from denial of services. Indeed, members of the two groups attend many of the same programs, sitting literally side by side. Members of both groups receive services that have been recommended by their professional interdisciplinary teams. Only those living at home are faced with the elimination of habilitative services. Although reducing services to one group while protecting the other was obviously more expedient, it was not rational.
The basic flaw in the method used to reduce spending was that it was done "top down." Decisions were made at the point most removed from the day to day delivery of services to each retarded person. The corollary to this technique is that no consideration was given to the actual impact that would result to each retarded individual. (Stip. para. 256; Sykes, N.T. 144-46, 9/26/88). Although services are initiated and delivered according to individual needs, the budget cuts were determined in a manner that eschewed individual evaluation and relied instead upon gross and discriminatory generalizations.
The arbitrariness of the methods used by defendants was not limited to the initial decision to make cuts according to the residential/non-residential classifications. The means by which reductions were specified within individual non-residential service categories was arbitrary at best. No clinical or programmatic rationale based on individual needs was ever used to make the decisions. (Sykes, N.T. 137, 9/26/88). There was no administrative, fiscal, clinical or scientific basis for the budget reductions figures in each category; the officials instead "backed into" the numbers. (Sykes, N.T. pp. 133-37, 9/27/88). Once the numbers were backed into, moreover, no attempt was made to either test the validity of the cuts by examining the comparative impact of any alternative set of service reductions or to even "fine tune" the original numbers chosen. (Sykes, N.T. pp. 134-38, 9/26/88). The arbitrariness and lack of rationality of the discriminatory classifications was accordingly a reflection of the entire approach used to deal with the budget deficit. It was clearly arbitrary and not an exercise of rational judgment.
The Court is aware that the administration of a large social services program is not an easy task. Agencies plagued with recurrent deficits in the face of needs which must be routinely compromised are in a seemingly impossible situation. The need to reduce spending is not, however, a defense for arbitrarily cutting services to one group of retarded individuals rather than another, when the two groups are not distinguishable in a meaningful way as to their relative need for services. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 229, 102 S. Ct. 2382, 2401, 72 L. Ed. 2d 786 (1982). It is neither the right nor the duty of this Court to substitute its own judgment for that of the defendants. When, however, it appears that there has been a lack of judgment, or an irrational lack of fairness, the Court must intercede.
The defendants have chosen the path of least resistance in extracting all of the savings from the non-residential programs. It is as if they seek to capitalize upon the love and dedication of the families of the class members. Those whose families have given the most, who have received the least in services and cost the least to habilitate are now called upon to sacrifice and lose all of their services. The bottom line is that if you are retarded and someone loves you enough to provide a home for you, your habilitative services will be terminated for the rest of the fiscal year whereas if you are institutionalized or in a community residence, you will continue to receive all of your services. Were there a rational basis for such a result, the loss would remain with the plaintiff class. But because the discriminatory scheme used by defendants is not rationally related to any legitimate governmental interest, the Constitution demands that defendants should have found a better way to resolve the problem.
The plaintiff class asserts a claim of entitlement to the continued receipt of habilitative services. Habilitation may be defined as "that process of teaching and training a person the basic life skills, his basic ability to deal with the world like everyone else." Glenn, N.T. p. 77, 9/27/88. Habilitation is what allows a retarded person to reach his or her maximum development. It is well accepted that all retarded people can improve their skills with habilitation in a non-institutional environment. E.g., Halderman v. Pennhurst State School & Hospital, 446 F. Supp. 1295, 1298 (E.D. Pa. 1977). Habilitation is more of a necessity to the mentally retarded than is education for the non-retarded. Although there is no fundamental right to receive education, Kadrmas v. Dickinson Public Schools, 487 U.S. 450, 108 S. Ct. 2481, 101 L. Ed. 2d 399 (1988), the United States Supreme Court has held that it is appropriate for a Court to determine whether the discriminatory denial of access to education by a state is violative of the Equal Protection Clause by requiring proof of a substantial state interest. Plyler v. Doe, supra. As Justice Brennan stated in Plyler, "a concern for the preservation of resources standing alone can hardly justify the classification used in allocating those resources," 457 U.S. at 227, 102 S. Ct. at 2400, nor may a state "'reduce expenditures for education by barring [some arbitrarily chosen class of] children from its schools,' Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 633, 89 S. Ct. 1322, 1330, 22 L. Ed. 2d 600 . . . (1969)," 457 U.S. at 229, 102 S. Ct. at 2401. "If the state is to deny a discrete group . . . education . . . that denial must be justified by showing that it furthers some substantial state interest," 457 U.S. at 230; 102 S. Ct. at 2401-02. Although mental retardation may not be a suspect or "quasi-suspect" classification, discrimination against the retarded must be justified by more than a claim that it is rationally related to a legitimate government interest, City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. at 451, 105 S. Ct. at 3260 (Stevens, J., concurring); 473 U.S. at 455, 105 S. Ct. at 3262 (Marshall, J., dissenting).
Central to the analysis of the Plyler court was the recognition of the essential function of education in a free society. As Justice Brennan wrote,
Education provides the basic tools by which individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us all. In sum, education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society. We cannot ignore the significant social costs borne by our Nation when selected groups are denied the means to absorb the values and skills upon which our social order rests. . . . The inestimable toll of that deprivation on the social economic, intellectual, and psychological well-being of the individual, and the obstacle it poses to individual achievement, make it most difficult to reconcile the cost or the principle of a status-based denial of basic education with the framework of equality embodied in the Equal Protection Clause.
Plyler, 457 U.S. at 221-22, 102 S. Ct. 2397, 72 L. Ed. 2d 786.
No group can make a more legitimate claim to the need for education than the mentally retarded. Habilitation for the retarded permits them to be physically safe and free from restraints. Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 102 S. Ct. 2452, 73 L. Ed. 2d 28 (1982). It allows them to leave an institution to live in the community. Clark v. Cohen, 794 F.2d 79 (3d Cir. 1986) cert. denied, 479 U.S. 962, 107 S. Ct. 459, 93 L. Ed. 2d 404 (1986). It is essential that they learn and maintain the most basic self care skills. It facilitates their being able to engage in competitive employment so that they may be productive members of society. It gives some retarded individuals the ability to speak, naturally or with the assistance of a computer synthesized voice, or to write, abilities which are essential to the exercise of free speech.
This record contains no evidence that the denial of services to the members of the plaintiff class furthers any substantial state interest. The evidence in this record demonstrates that the defendants simply determined that because of a projected fiscal deficit of $ 6.8 million in the budget for habilitative services to retarded individuals it would be appropriate for them to cut services to those living at home with their families, a determination which this Court has found to be arbitrary and irrational. The Court finds that the means by which defendants' eliminated services to the plaintiff class is prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
DEPRIVATION OF SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS RIGHTS
The irreparable injury which all parties agree will be suffered by each member of the plaintiff class is constitutionally cognizable under the Fourteenth Amendment. One's safety and well being are within the liberty interests protected by due process. Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 315-16, 102 S. Ct. 2452, 2458, 73 L. Ed. 2d 28 (1982) (personal security and freedom from bodily restraint); Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 855 F.2d 1421, 1425 (9th Cir. 1988) (freedom from physical harm and restraint); Estate of Gilmore v. Buckley, 787 F.2d 714, 721 (1st Cir. 1986) (safety and well being) cert. denied, 479 U.S. 882, 107 S. Ct. 270, 93 L. Ed. 2d 247 (1986). The regression that will result from the proposed cutbacks will jeopardize the health and safety of each member of the class. Termination of habilitation to the retarded leads to such problems as agression, self abuse, resort to administration of psychotropic medications, and other forms of physical and emotional injury.
Failure to maintain the basic skills of the retarded implicates the rights of a retarded person to personal autonomy. In the context of habilitation provided by an institution, Justice Blackmun, joined by Justices Brennan and O'Connor, suggested that failure to provide adequate training to maintain self care skills may violate due process rights.
If a person could demonstrate that he entered a state institution with minimal self-care skills, but lost those skills after commitment because of the State's unreasonable refusal to provide him training, then, it seems to me, he has alleged a loss of liberty quite distinct from -- and as serious as -- the loss of safety and freedom from unreasonable restraints. For many mentally retarded people, the difference between the capacity to do things for themselves within an institution and total dependence on the institution for all of their needs is as much liberty as they ever will know.