36 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 663 (2004-2005)
The Doorkeeper and the Grand Inquisitor: The Central Role of Verification Procedures in Means-Tested Welfare Programs

handle is hein.journals/colhr36 and id is 671 raw text is: THE DOORKEEPER AND THE GRAND
INQUISITOR:* THE CENTRAL ROLE OF
VERIFICATION PROCEDURES IN MEANS-
TESTED WELFARE PROGRAMS
Amy Mulzer**
I. INTRODUCTION
All means-tested social welfare programs in the United
States are made up of three primary elements: eligibility restrictions,
benefit levels, and application procedures. Both eligibility restrictions
and benefit levels have been persistent subjects of debate in this
country. During the Reagan administration, disagreements over the
importance of the nation's welfare program took the form of debates
over benefit and eligibility levels. Rather than saying that he wanted
to eliminate welfare, the President argued that his cuts were
legitimate attempts to better target scarce resources at those who
were truly needy.' Likewise, rather than arguing that aiding the
*    This title was suggested by a description of verification given by William
Simon. Simon compares the social work model of verification with Dostoevsky's
Grand Inquisitor and the legal-bureaucratic one with Kafka's Doorkeeper, who
stands, passive and inscrutable, before the door to the Law, and announces only
when it is too late, 'this door was intended for you.' William H. Simon, Legality,
Bureaucracy, and Class in the Welfare System, 92 Yale L.J. 1198, 1198-99 (1983)
(quoting Franz Kafka, The Trial 269 (Vintage ed. 1969)).
**   B.A., Bard College (2001); J.D., Columbia University School of Law
(2005); Articles Editor, Columbia Human Rights Law Review (2004-05). I would
like to thank David Super for his valuable criticism on several drafts and for his
support and encouragement. I would also like to thank Jason Parkin and Kristin
Heavey for their editorial assistance.
1.   See, e.g., Richard E. Meyer & Barry Bearak, Numbers Worsen: Poverty:
Toll Grows Amid Aid Cutbacks, L.A. Times, July 28, 1985, at Al (quoting David
A. Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget and the chief

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