465 U.S. 555 (1984), 82-792, Grove City College v. Bell

Docket Nº:No. 82-792.
Citation:465 U.S. 555, 104 S.Ct. 1211, 79 L.Ed.2d 516
Party Name:GROVE CITY COLLEGE, Individually and on Behalf of its Students, et al., Petitioners v. Terrel H. BELL, Secretary of Education, et al.
Case Date:February 28, 1984
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 555

465 U.S. 555 (1984)

104 S.Ct. 1211, 79 L.Ed.2d 516

GROVE CITY COLLEGE, Individually and on Behalf of its Students, et al., Petitioners

v.

Terrel H. BELL, Secretary of Education, et al.

No. 82-792.

United States Supreme Court.

Feb. 28, 1984

Argued Nov. 29, 1983.

Private college and four of its students filed suit seeking an order to declare void the Department of Education's termination of students' financial assistance based on the college's failure to execute assurance of compliance with statute prohibiting sex discrimination in any educational program receiving federal financial assistance. The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Paul A. Simmons, J., 500 F.Supp. 253, concluded that the students' receipt of basic educational opportunity grants constituted federal financial assistance to the college but held that the Department could not terminate the students' aid because of the college's refusal to execute the assurance of compliance, and appeals were taken. The Court of Appeals, Garth, Circuit Judge, 687 F.2d 684, reversed in part and remanded. Certiorari was granted. The Supreme Court, Justice White, held that: (1) college was recipient of federal financial assistance and thus subject to the statute prohibiting sex discrimination where some of its students received basic educational opportunity grants even though the college did not receive any direct federal financial assistance, and (2) the receipt of grants by some of the college's students did not trigger institutionwide coverage but only coverage for its financial aid program.

Affirmed.

Justice Powell, with whom Chief Justice Burger and Justice O'Connor joined, filed a concurring opinion.

Justice Stevens filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the result.

Justice Brennan, with whom Justice Marshall joined, filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

[104 S.Ct. 1212] Syllabus[*]

SYLLABUS

Section 901(a) of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in "any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance," and § 902 provides that a recipient's compliance with regulations of a federal agency awarding assistance may be secured by termination of assistance "to the particular program, or part thereof, in which ... noncompliance has been ... found." Under the statute a federally assisted program must be identified before Title IX coverage is triggered. Petitioner Grove City College (College), a private, coeducational, liberal arts college, accepts no direct federal assistance, nor does it participate in the Regular Disbursement System (RDS) of the Department of Education (Department), whereby amounts for federal grants to students are advanced to the institution, which then itself selects eligible students and calculates and distributes the grants. However, the College enrolls students who receive direct federal Basic Educational Opportunity Grants (BEOG's) under the Department's Alternative Disbursement System (ADS). The Department concluded that, under applicable regulations, the College was a "recipient" of "Federal financial assistance," and when the College refused to execute an Assurance of Compliance with Title IX's nondiscrimination provisions, as required by the regulations, the Department initiated administrative proceedings, which resulted in an order terminating assistance until the College executed an Assurance of Compliance and satisfied the Department that it was in compliance with the regulations. The College and four of its students then filed suit in Federal District Court, which held that the students' BEOG's constituted "Federal financial assistance" to the College but that the Department could not terminate the students' aid because of the College's refusal to execute an Assurance of Compliance. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Department could terminate the students' BEOG's to force the College to execute an Assurance of Compliance.

Held:

1. Title IX coverage is triggered because some of the College's students receive BEOG's to pay for their education. In view of the structure of the Education Amendments of 1972, the clear statutory language,

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the legislative history (including postenactment history) showing Congress' [104 S.Ct. 1213] awareness that the student assistant programs established by the Amendments significantly aided colleges and universities, and the longstanding administrative construction of the phrase "receiving Federal financial assistance" as including assistance to a student who uses it at a particular institution, Title IX coverage is not foreclosed merely because federal funds are granted to the students rather than to the College's educational programs. Pp. 1216 - 1220.

2. However, the receipt of BEOG's by some of the College's students does not trigger institutionwide coverage under Title IX. In purpose and effect, BEOG's represent financial assistance to the College's own financial aid program, and it is that program that may properly be regulated under Title IX's nondiscrimination provision. Under the program-specific limitations of §§ 901 and 902, the College's choice of participating in the ADS rather than the RDS mechanism for administering the BEOG program neither expands nor contracts the breadth of the "program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." The fact that federal funds eventually reach the College's general operating budget cannot subject it to institutionwide coverage. Pp. 1220 - 1221.

3. A refusal to execute a proper program-specific Assurance of Compliance warrants the Department's termination of federal assistance to the student financial aid program. The College's contention that termination must be preceded by a finding of actual discrimination is not supported by § 902's language. Pp. 1222 - 1223.

4. Requiring the College to comply with Title IX's prohibition of discrimination as a condition for its continued eligibility to participate in the BEOG program infringes no First Amendment rights of the College or its students. P. 1223.

687 F.2d 684 (CA3 1982), affirmed.

COUNSEL

David M. Lascell argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs wasRobb M. Jones.

Acting Solicitor General Bator argued the cause for respondents. With him on the briefs were Solicitor General Lee, Assistant Attorney General Reynolds, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Cooper, John H. Garvey, and Brian K. Landsberg.*

* Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the Equal Employment Advisory Council by Robert E. Williams, Douglas S. McDowell, and Edward E. Potter; for Hillsdale College by Robert W. Barker; and for the Pacific Legal Foundation by Ronald A. Zumbrun and John H. Findley.

Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the American Association of University Women et al. by Nancy Duff Campbell and Margaret A. Kohn; for the Council of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators by Lionel S. Sobel; for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law by Richard C. Dinkelspiel, Norman Redlich, William L. Robinson, Norman J. Chachkin, and Roger L. Waldman; and for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund et al. by Robert H. Kapp, Joseph M. Hassett, John C. Keeney, Jr., Joaquin Avila, and Morris J. Baller.

Briefs of amici curiae were filed for the Mountain States Legal Foundation et al. by Maxwell A. Miller; for Wabash College by David N. Shane; and for Representative Claudine C. Schneider et al. by Karen Syma Shinberg Czapanskiy.

David M. Lascell, Rochester, N.Y., for petitioners.

Paul M. Bator, Cambridge, Mass., for respondents.

OPINION

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Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Section 901(a) of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Pub.L. 92-318, 86 Stat. 373, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), prohibits sex discrimination in "any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,"1 and § 902 directs agencies awarding most types of assistance to promulgate regulations to ensure that recipients adhere to that prohibition. Compliance with departmental regulations may be secured by termination of assistance "to the particular program, or part thereof, in which ... noncompliance has

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been ... found" or by "any other means authorized by law." § 902, 20 U.S.C. § 1682. 2

This case presents several questions concerning the scope and operation of these [104 S.Ct. 1214] provisions and the regulations established by the Department of Education. We must decide, first, whether Title IX applies at all to Grove City College, which accepts no direct assistance but enrolls students who receive federal grants that must be used for educational purposes. If so, we must identify the "education program or activity" at Grove City that is "receiving Federal financial assistance" and determine whether federal assistance to that

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program may be terminated solely because the College violates the Department's regulations by refusing to execute an Assurance of Compliance with Title IX. Finally, we must consider whether the application of Title IX to Grove City infringes the First Amendment rights of the College or its students.

I

Petitioner Grove City College is a private, coeducational, liberal arts college that has sought to preserve its institutional autonomy by consistently refusing state and federal financial assistance. Grove City's desire to avoid federal oversight has led it to decline to participate, not only in direct institutional aid programs, but also in federal student assistance programs under which the College would be required to assess students' eligibility and to determine the amounts of loans, work-study funds, or grants they should receive. 3 Grove City has, however, enrolled a large number of students who receive Basic Educational Opportunity Grants (BEOGs), 20 U.S.C. § 1070a, under the...

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