Opinion of O'CONNOR, J.

children, or for the payment of alimony to his wife.' E. Griswold, Spendthrift Trusts 389 (2d ed. 1947)." See also id., at 73-77 (STEVENS, J., dissenting).

As the Court acknowledges, ante, at 631-632, until Ridgway, we had carefully refused to hold that anti-attachment provisions similar to §3101(a) shield the beneficiary from the support claims of his spouse and children. Wissner v. Wissner, 338 U. S. 655, 659–660 (1950); Hisquierdo v. Hisquierdo, 439 U. S. 572, 587 (1979). In addition, state courts all along have asserted that § 3101(a), its predecessors, and similar statutes do not make the support obligation unenforceable. Mims v. Mims, 442 So. 2d 102, 103-104 (Ala. Civ. App. 1983); Smolin v. First Fidelity Savings & Loan Assn., 238 Md. 386, 392–394, 209 A. 2d 546, 549–550 (1965); Dillard v. Dillard, 341 S. W. 2d 668, 675 (Tex. Civ. App. 1960); Voelkel v. Tohulka, 236 Ind. 588, 592-593, 141 N. E. 2d 344, 346, cert. denied, 355 U. S. 891 (1957); Pishue v. Pishue, 32 Wash. 2d 750, 754–756, 203 P. 2d 1070, 1072-1073 (1949); Hannah v. Hannah, 191 Ga. 134, 137-139, 11 S. E. 2d 779, 781-782 (1940); Gaskins v. Security-First National Bank of Los Angeles, 30 Cal. App. 2d 409, 417-418, 86 P. 2d 681, 684-685 (1939); In re Gardner, 220 Wis. 490, 493, 264 N. W. 643, 647 (1936); Stirgus v. Stirgus, 172 Miss. 337, 341, 160 So. 285, 286 (1935); but cf. Ridgway v. Ridgway, 454 U. S., at 62, n. 11 (citing cases).

In short, the support obligation has always been granted a special place in our law. While the broad language of §3101(a) seems clearly meant to bar the ordinary creditor's attachment, I cannot find, in light of this Nation's common law tradition, that the language of §3101(a) expresses anything like the unequivocal congressional intent necessary to bar family members from enforcing the veteran's support obligation. The contrary holding in Ridgway is hopelessly anomalous, and should be relegated to the status of "a derelict on the waters of the law." Lambert v. California, 355 U. S. 225, 232 (1957) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting). Accord

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ingly, I concur in Parts I, II-A, II-B, II-D, and III of the Court's opinion, and object only to its failure to rest its holding squarely on the unique force of the support obligation.

JUSTICE SCALIA, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.

I concur in the judgment of the Court that none of the statutes cited by appellant or the United States bars the Tennessee court from basing child support awards on a parent's veterans' benefits, or from enforcing such an award by civil contempt. I cannot, however, join much of the Court's analysis, which unnecessarily, and in my view erroneously, suggests that certain state actions not before us here are permissible because they do not frustrate the purposes of the federal provisions. While incompatibility with the purpose of a federal statute may invalidate a state law that does not violate its text, I know of no precedent for the proposition, which these portions of the opinion adopt, that compatibility with the purpose of a federal statute can save a state law that violates its text. Such a doctrine in effect asserts a power to narrow statutory texts, insofar as their pre-emptive effect is concerned, so as to make them more precisely tailored to the purpose that the Court perceives.



Title 38 U. S. C. §3107(a)(2) (1982 ed., Supp. III) provides "All or any part of the compensation . . . payable on account of any veteran may . . . if the veteran's children are not in the custody of the veteran, be apportioned as may be prescribed by the Administrator." I agree with the Court that the language of this statute (1) gives the Administrator only discretionary authority to make apportionments; (2) does not on its face bar States from using veterans' benefits as the basis for child support orders where no such apportionment has been made or denied; and (3) should not be construed to have that as its purpose, in light of the presumption against federal intrusion into the field of family law. Ante, at 626

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628. I think those conclusions quite adequate to support the holding that § 3107 does not bar Tennessee from entering the order at issue here. I would not reach the question whether the State may enter a support order that conflicts with an apportionment ruling made by the Administrator, or whether the Administrator may make an apportionment ruling that conflicts with a support order entered by the State. Ante, at 627. Those questions are not before us, since the Administrator has made no such ruling.

Moreover, I am not at all certain that the Court answers those questions correctly. I am not persuaded that if the Administrator makes an apportionment ruling, a state court may enter a conflicting child support order. It would be extraordinary to hold that a federal officer's authorized allocation of federally granted funds between two claimants can be overridden by a state official. Congress could, I suppose, enact such a peculiar scheme, but it is at least not clear that it has done so here. Moreover, while I agree with the Court that one possible use of the Administrator's apportionment authority is to facilitate direct, separate payments of benefits to a spouse in accordance with a previous state-court order, see ante, at 626, I see nothing in the statute to indicate that that is the only possible use.


For related reasons, I also disagree with the Court's construction of 38 U. S. C. § 211(a), which provides that "[d]ecisions of the Administrator on any question of law or fact under any law administered by the Veterans' Administration providing benefits for veterans and their dependents ... shall be final and conclusive and no other official or any court of the United States shall have power or jurisdiction to review any such decision." The Court finds this inapplicable because it does not explicitly exclude state-court jurisdiction, as it does federal; ante, at 629, and because its underlying purpose of "achiev[ing] uniformity in the administration of

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veterans' benefits and protect[ing] the Administrator from expensive and time-consuming litigation," ibid., would not be impaired. I would find it inapplicable for a much simpler


Had the Administrator granted or denied an application to apportion benefits, state-court action providing a contrary disposition would arguably conflict with the language of § 211 making his decisions "final and conclusive"-and if so would in my view be pre-empted, regardless of the Court's perception that it does not conflict with the "purposes" of §211. But there is absolutely no need to pronounce upon that issue here. Because the Administrator can make an apportionment only upon receipt of a claim, Veterans' Administration Manual M21-1, ch. 26, ¶26.01 (Aug. 1, 1979), and because no claim for apportionment of the benefits at issue here has ever been filed, the Administrator has made no "decision" to which finality and conclusiveness can attach. See Johnson v. Robison, 415 U. S. 361, 367–368 (1974) (§ 211 does not bar claim that a statute regarding benefits is unconstitutional because Administrator has made no decision as to that issue). The Court again expresses views on a significant issue that is not presented.


Finally, 38 U. S. C. §3101(a) provides that "[p]ayments of benefits... under any law administered by the Veterans' Administration . . . made to, or on account of, a beneficiary ... shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary." The Court holds that this statute does not apply to attachments, levies, or seizures to enforce child support obligations-again on the basis that these actions would not frustrate the "purpose" of the provision. It reaches that conclusion by deducing, on the basis of legislative history and the apportionment provision, that the "purpose" of veterans' disability benefits is "in part, the support of veterans' dependents." Ante, at 631. The

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words of §3101(a), however, extend to all use of the enumerated judicial processes ("attachment, levy, or seizure by any legal or equitable process whatever"), and I see no basis for consulting "purpose" to exclude, with no textual justification, some (but not all) state proceedings. Moreover, even if that mode of analysis is legitimate, it is not clear to me that depriving a veteran of benefits in favor of his children does not conflict with the statute's purpose. Little is proved by the statements in the House and Senate Reports that veterans' disability benefits are intended to compensate for impaired earning capacity and to provide reasonable compensation for disabled veterans and their families, ante, at 630, citing H. R. Rep. No. 96-1155, p. 4 (1980) and S. Rep. No. 98-604, p. 24 (1984); that intent would still be effectuated in the vast majority of situations (which is all that is needed to explain the statements) whether or not attachment for child support is allowed. These excerpts are extremely weak support for the proposition that a veteran's family has a right in the benefits, enforceable in state courts, as against the veterana proposition which, as JUSTICE O'CONNOR'S concurrence notes, rests uneasily with our decision in Ridgway v. Ridgway, 454 U. S. 46 (1981). Ante, at 631. And the apportionment statute only demonstrates, at most, that Congress intended to permit children access to those benefits by means of an order of the Administrator, but says nothing about whether state courts may garnish, attach, or seize them on behalf of a veteran's children. In light of § 3101(a)'s explicit prohibition of such orders, I am reluctant to find authority to issue them.

Once again, however, this issue need not have been reached. Neither an order basing the amount of a veteran's child support obligation in part on his disability benefits nor an order that he satisfy that obligation on pain of being held in contempt is an attachment, garnishment, or seizure. Neither directs the disposition of the veteran's disability benefits or even specifically requires him to use them to satisfy his ob

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