441 U.S. 677 (1979), 77-926, Cannon v. University of Chicago

Docket Nº:No. 77-926.
Citation:441 U.S. 677, 99 S.Ct. 1946, 60 L.Ed.2d 560
Party Name:Cannon v. University of Chicago
Case Date:May 14, 1979
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 677

441 U.S. 677 (1979)

99 S.Ct. 1946, 60 L.Ed.2d 560

Cannon

v.

University of Chicago

No. 77-926.

United States Supreme Court

May 14, 1979

Argued January 9, 1979

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Section 901(a) of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) provides in part that

[n]o person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Petitioner instituted litigation in Federal District Court, alleging that she had been excluded from participation in the medical education programs of respondent private universities on the basis of her gender and that these programs were receiving federal financial assistance at the time of her exclusion. The District Court granted respondents' motions to dismiss the complaints, since Title IX does not expressly authorize a private right of action by a person injured by a violation of § 901, and since the court concluded that no private remedy should be inferred. The Court of Appeals agreed that the statute did not contain an implied private remedy. It concluded, inter alia, that Congress intended the remedy in § 902 of Title IX, establishing a procedure for the termination of federal financial support for institutions that violated § 901, to be the exclusive means of enforcement, and that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, upon which Title IX was patterned, did not include an implied private cause of action.

Held: Petitioner may maintain her lawsuit, despite the absence of any express authorization for it in Title IX. Pp. 688-717.

(a) Before concluding that Congress intended to make a remedy available to a special class of litigants, a court must carefully analyze the following four factors that Cort v. Ash, 422 U.S. 66, identifies as indicative of such an intent: (1) [99 S.Ct. 1948] whether the statute was enacted for the benefit of a special class of which the plaintiff is a member, (2) whether there is any indication of legislative intent to create a private remedy, (3) whether implication of such a remedy is consistent with the underlying purposes of the legislative scheme, and (4) whether implying a federal remedy is inappropriate because the subject matter involves an area basically of concern to the States. P. 688.

(b) The first factor is satisfied here since Title IX explicitly confers a benefit on persons discriminated against on the basis of sex, and petitioner

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is clearly a member of that class for whose special benefit the statute was enacted. Pp. 689-694.

(c) As to the second factor, the legislative history of Title IX rather plainly indicates that Congress intended to create a private cause of action. Title IX was patterned after Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the drafters of Title IX explicitly assumed that it would be interpreted and enforced in the same manner as Title VI, which had already been construed by lower federal courts as creating a private remedy when Title IX was enacted. Pp. 694-703.

(d) The third factor is satisfied, since implication of a private remedy will not frustrate the underlying purposes of the legislative scheme but, instead, will assist in achieving the statutory purpose of providing individual citizens effective protection against discriminatory practices. Pp. 703-708.

(e) As to the fourth factor, since the Civil War, the Federal Government and the federal courts have been the primary and powerful reliances in protecting citizens against invidious discrimination of any sort, including that on the basis of sex. Moreover, it is the expenditure of federal funds that provides the justification for this particular statutory prohibition. Pp. 708-709.

(f) Respondents' principal argument against implying a cause of action under Title IX -- that it is unwise to subject admissions decisions of universities to judicial scrutiny at the behest of disappointed applicants on a case-by-case basis because this kind of litigation is burdensome, and inevitably will have an adverse effect on the independence of members of university committees -- is without merit. The congressional majorities that passed Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX rejected the same argument when advanced by the congressional opponents of the two statutes, and there is nothing to demonstrate that private Title VI litigation has been so costly or voluminous that either the academic community or the courts have been unduly burdened, or that university administrators will be so concerned about the risk of litigation that they will fail to discharge their important responsibilities in an independent and professional manner. Pp. 709-710.

(g) Nor is there any merit to respondents' arguments, starting from the premise that Title IX and Title VI should receive the same construction, that a comparison of Title VI with other titles of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 demonstrates that Congress created express private remedies whenever it found them desirable, and that certain excerpts from the legislative history of Title VI foreclose the implication of a private remedy. The fact that other provisions of a complex statutory scheme create express remedies has not been accepted as a sufficient

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reason, by itself, for refusing to imply an otherwise appropriate remedy under a separate section, and none of the excerpts from the legislative history cited by respondents evidences any hostility toward an implied private remedy for terminating the offending discrimination. Pp. 710-716.

559 F.2d 1063, reversed and remanded.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which STEWART, J., joined, post, p. 717. BURGER, C.J., concurred in the judgment. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p. 718. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 730.

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STEVENS, J., lead opinion

[99 S.Ct. 1949] MR. JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner's complaints allege that her applications for admission to medical school were denied by the respondents because she is a woman.1 Accepting the truth of those allegations for the purpose of its decision, the Court of Appeals held that petitioner has no right of action against respondents that may be asserted in a federal court. 559 F.2d 1063. We granted certiorari to review that holding. 438 U.S. 914.

Only two facts alleged in the complaints are relevant to our decision. First, petitioner was excluded from participation in the respondents' medical education programs because of her sex. Second, these education programs were receiving federal financial assistance at the time of her exclusion. These facts, admitted arguendo by respondents' motion to dismiss the complaints, establish a violation of § 901(a) of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (hereinafter Title IX).2

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That section, in relevant part, provides:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the

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benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. . . .3

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The statute does not, however, expressly authorize a private right of action by a person injured by a violation of § 901. For that reason, and because it concluded that no private remedy should be inferred, the District Court granted the respondents' motions to dismiss. 406 F.Supp. 1257, 1259.

The Court of Appeals agreed that the statute did not contain an implied private remedy. Noting that § 902 of Title IX establishes a procedure for the termination [99 S.Ct. 1951] of federal financial support for institutions violating § 901, the Court of Appeals concluded that Congress intended that remedy to

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be the exclusive means of enforcement.4 It recognized that the statute was patterned after Title VI of the Civil Rights

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Act of 1964 (hereinafter Title VI),5 but rejected petitioner's argument that Title VI included an implied private cause of action. 559 F.2d at 1071-1075.

After the Court of Appeals' decision was announced, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976, 90 Stat. 2641, which authorizes an award of fees to prevailing private parties in actions to enforce Title IX.6 The

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court therefore [99 S.Ct. 1952] granted a petition for rehearing to consider whether, in the light of that statute, its original interpretation of Title IX had been correct. After receiving additional briefs, the court concluded that the 1976 Act was not intended to create a remedy that did not previously exist.7 The court

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also noted that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare had taken the position that a private cause of action under Title I should be implied,8 but the court disagreed

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with that agency's interpretation of the Act. In sum, it adhered to its original view, 559 F.2d at 1077-1080.

The Court of Appeals quite properly devoted careful attention to this question of statutory construction. As our recent cases -- particularly Cort v. Ash, 422 U.S. 66 -- demonstrate, the fact that a federal statute has been violated and some person harmed does not automatically give rise to a private cause of action in favor of that person. Instead, before concluding that Congress intended to make a remedy available to a special class of litigants, a court must carefully analyze the four factors that Cort identifies...

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