You Better Work: Unconstitutional Work Requirements and Food Oppression

76 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2020

See all articles by Andrea Freeman

Andrea Freeman

University of Hawai'i William S. Richardson School of Law

Date Written: January 31, 2020

Abstract

Leveraging hunger to compel low-wage work has been a tool of oppression since slavery. Exercising control over parenting and infant feeding also echoes back to the brutal practices of that period. Modern work requirements attached to the receipt of welfare (TANF) and food stamps (SNAP) arose out of unfounded fears of fraud based on racial stereotypes like the Welfare Queen. While food assistance helps raise households out of poverty, work requirements do not. Instead, they lead to greater food insecurity by removing people from the program through sanctions and deterring others from registering. The nature of the work performed to satisfy work requirements — unskilled and low wage — rarely leads to long-term, gainful employment. When new mothers leave the home to satisfy welfare work requirements, they have no choice but to formula feed their babies. You Better Work argues that the harmful effects of TANF and SNAP work requirements are unconstitutional under Equal Protection, Substantive Due Process, the Thirteenth Amendment, and the Unconstitutional Conditions Doctrine.

Suggested Citation

Freeman, Andrea, You Better Work: Unconstitutional Work Requirements and Food Oppression (January 31, 2020). UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 53, No. 1531, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3528859

Andrea Freeman (Contact Author)

University of Hawai'i William S. Richardson School of Law ( email )

Honolulu, HI 96822-2350
United States

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