USA (202) 514-2008 TDD (202) 514-1888

U.S. FILES MOTIONS TO RECONSIDER IN ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT CASES WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department announced today that the United States Attorney for the District of Arizona has asked a U.S. District judge to reconsider his ruling that the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 is unconstitutional. On July 26, 1995, Judge Paul G. Rosenblatt, United States District Judge for the District of Arizona, issued orders in United States v. Mussari and United States v. Schroeder declaring the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 unconstitutional. Attorney General Janet Reno stated that the federal government will defend the constitutionality of the federal child support statute. "The President and I believe this law is constitutional. There is a federal interest in ensuring that parents cannot escape their responsibility by moving from state to state in an effort to avoid supporting their children. This Administration will vigorously enforce the law. We will pursue the most egregious cases where parents have the ability to pay. We will not let delinquent parents thumb their noses at the law and their children." The Child Support Recovery Act imposes a criminal penalty upon any person who willfully fails to pay child support to a child who resides in another state. The statute provides for imprisonment up to six months for the first offense and imprisonment up to two years for each subsequent conviction. The judge based his decision to strike down the child support law upon United States v. Lopez, in which the Supreme Court held the Gun-Free School Zone Act to be unconstitutional because it did not substantially affect interstate commerce and was an unauthorized exercise of congressional power. In the Mussari and Schroeder cases, the Court found that the Child Support Recovery Act is a criminal statute that, by its terms, has nothing to do with commerce or any sort of economic enterprise. Thus, since the Court found "no nexus between the statute and interstate commerce," it struck down the law as beyond the scope of congressional power under the Commerce Clause, citing Lopez. The U.S. Attorney's Motion to Reconsider offers Judge Rosenblatt an opportunity to reverse or modify his decision. If the judge fails to reverse his decision, the U.S. Attorney has already determined that the case will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Currently, more than 75 cases have been filed under the federal statute, and more than 500 cases are in the investigative pipeline. There have been approximately twenty convictions. Under the federal statute, cases can only be brought in federal court when a court order has been outstanding for more

than one year and the parent owes more than $5,000. In addition, the child and custodial parent must live in a different state than non-custodial parent and the government must prove that the parent has ability to pay. In March, the House of Representatives passed legislation proposed by President Clinton to strengthen the federal government's role in child support enforcement. The Clinton proposal requires states to deny drivers' and professional licenses to deadbeat parents who refuse to pay child support. ### 95-458