Halderman v. Pennhurst State School & Hospital

Decision Date26 February 1982
Docket NumberNos. 78-1490,No. 78-1602,78-1564 and 78-1602,No. 78-1490,78-1490,78-1602,s. 78-1490
Citation673 F.2d 647
PartiesTerri Lee HALDERMAN, a retarded citizen, by her mother and guardian, Winifred Halderman; et al., Plaintiff-Intervenors, v. PENNHURST STATE SCHOOL & HOSPITAL, et al., Pennhurst Parent-Staff Association, Intervenor. Appeal of COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Defendants, Pennhurst State School& Hospital, et al., inAppeal of George METZGER, et al. in No 78-1564. Appeal of Mayor Frank L. RIZZO, the City Council of Philadelphia, and Leon Soffer in
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit

LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Atty. Gen., Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Atty. Gen., Chief, Special Litigation, Robert B. Hoffman, Deputy Atty. Gen. (argued), Harrisburg, Pa., for Commonwealth appellants.

Thomas M. Kittredge (argued), Jami Wintz McKeon, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Alan J. Davis, Mark A. Aronchick, Pauline Cohen, Philadelphia, Pa., for City and County appellants.

Joel I. Klein (argued), H. Bartow Farr, III, Peter Scheer, Onek, Klein & Farr, Washington, D. C., for Pennhurst Parent-Staff Association, intervenor.

David Ferleger (argued), Penelope A. Boyd, Philadelphia, Pa., for appellees Terri Lee Halderman, et al.

Thomas K. Gilhool (argued), Frank J. Laski, Public Interest Law Center of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa., for appellees, Pennsylvania Ass'n for Retarded Citizens, et al.

Peter F. Vaira, Jr., U. S. Atty., Philadelphia, Pa., Wm. Bradford Reynolds, Brian K. Landsberg (argued), Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., for the United States of America.



GIBBONS, Circuit Judge, with whom ALDISERT, WEIS, A. LEON HIGGINBOTHAM, Jr. and SLOVITER, Circuit Judges, join:

This appeal is before us on a remand from the Supreme Court, which on April 20, 1981, reversed our judgment upholding in part and modifying the permanent injunction ordered by the district court. 1


The Supreme Court's judgment remanded to this court "for further proceedings in conformity with the opinion of the Court." Accordingly it is necessary to examine that opinion, in the light of our prior opinion, to determine what issues must now be addressed. Our judgment, now reversed, rested upon a federal statute and a Pennsylvania statute.

The federal statute we relied upon is the "bill of rights" provision of the Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 6010 (1976). Proceeding on the assumption that Congress had constitutional authority under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to enact that section of the Act, we held that a private cause of action for the enforcement of the rights it defined should be implied. 2 That holding was predicated upon our belief that it was inappropriate for courts faced with a statute which fell within any of several constitutional grants of Congressional lawmaking authority to reject any source of such authority. 3 The Supreme Court, however, adopted a different standard, stating:

Although this Court has previously addressed issues going to Congress' power to secure the guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment, ... we have had little occasion to consider the appropriate test for determining when Congress intends to enforce those guarantees. Because such legislation imposes congressional policy on a State involuntarily, and because it often intrudes on traditional state authority, we should not quickly attribute to Congress an unstated intent to act under its authority to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment.... The case for inferring intent is at its weakest where, as here, the rights asserted imposed affirmative obligations on the States to fund certain services, since we may assume that Congress will not implicitly attempt to impose massive financial obligations on the States.

451 U.S. at 15-16, 101 S.Ct. at 1539. Applying this newly announced rule of statutory interpretation 4 to Section 6010, the Court held that it was not passed pursuant to Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, but was merely a funding clause enactment. As such, the statute was subject to another rule of statutory interpretation: "if Congress intends to impose a condition on the grant of federal moneys, it must do so unambiguously," for "(b)y insisting that Congress speak with a clear voice, we enable the States to exercise their choice (of participating in a federally funded program) knowingly, cognizant of the consequences of their participation." 451 U.S. at 17, 101 S.Ct. at 1540. Applying this clear statement requirement, the Court held:

We would be attributing far too much to Congress if we held that it required the States, at their own expense, to provide certain kinds of treatment. Accordingly, we reverse the principal holding of the Court of Appeals and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

451 U.S. at 31-32, 101 S.Ct. at 1547. The "principal holding" referred to is our holding that Section 6010 conferred substantive rights. 5 The precise holding in the Supreme Court's opinion is that we erred in that single respect.

Turning to our alternative state law grounds for affirming, to the extent we did, the relief ordered by the district court, the Supreme Court observed:

Respondents contend that, even if we conclude that relief is unavailable under federal law, state law adequately supports the relief ordered by the Court of Appeals. There are, however, two difficulties with that argument. First, the lower court's finding that state law provides a right to treatment may well have been colored by its holding with respect to § 6010. Second, the court held only that there is a right to "treatment," not that there is a state right to treatment in the "least restrictive" environment. As such, it is unclear whether state law provides an independent and adequate ground which can support the court's remedial order. Accordingly, we remand the state law issue for reconsideration in light of our decision here. 24

451 U.S. at 31, 101 S.Ct. at 1547. Thus the Supreme Court has expressed no view on the question whether state law provides an independent and adequate ground which can support the district court order. We are directed to consider that question in light of the decision in In re Joseph Schmidt, announced by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after our decision but prior to that of the Supreme Court. Implicit in that direction is a holding that the plaintiffs' federal law claims are of sufficient substance to support the exercise of pendent jurisdiction over that Pennsylvania law claim.

Finally, the Court addressed legal contentions advanced by the plaintiffs in support of the district court order which this court found it unnecessary to decide. Respecting the contention that Section 6063 of the Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, which requires that state plans comply with several specific federal conditions, may be enforceable in a private action, the Court noted that the contention raised a number of issues, but concluded These are all difficult questions. Because the Court of Appeals has not addressed these issues, however, we remand the issues for consideration in light of our decision here.

451 U.S. at 30, 101 S.Ct. at 1546. The Court also said:

For similar reasons, we also remand to the Court of Appeals those issues it did not address, namely, respondents' federal constitutional claims and their claims under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (of 1973, as amended in 1974, 1976, and 1978, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.)

451 U.S. at 31, 101 S.Ct. at 1547. We do not understand the remand on these issues as directions that this court must consider and decide either constitutional or statutory supremacy issues which, in light of state grounds independent and adequate to support the district court order, may not have to be reached. Rather, we construe the Court's remand as leaving open for our reconsideration, to the extent we find it necessary for such a purpose, any grounds of decision which might support the order appealed from, except our previous holding that Section 6010 was enacted pursuant to Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment and thus conferred substantive rights.

The Supreme Court found no fault with the district court's findings of fact, or with the standing of the United States as an intervening plaintiff. Thus there is no need for a repetition of the discussion in Parts II and III of our prior opinion. 6 Moreover the Court did not address those issues respecting scope of relief which are discussed in Part VII of our prior opinion. 7 Thus, assuming the propriety of some legal standard upon which relief could be predicated, there is no occasion, for purposes of this appeal, for a reconsideration of our discussion of the Commonwealth's Eleventh Amendment contention, 8 of objections to the definition of the class, 9 of objections to the use of a master, 10 or of other specific objections to provisions of the injunction which we rejected.


When our prior decision was announced, the highest court of Pennsylvania had not yet definitively construed the effect on the habilitation of mentally retarded persons of that state's Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966 (hereinafter MH/MR Act of 1966), Pa.Stat.Ann. tit. 50, §§ 4101-4704 (Purdon 1969). We held that the MH/MR Act of 1966 provides a state statutory right to habilitation for such persons, that the plaintiffs could sue to enforce that right and that a federal court has pendent jurisdiction over such a claim, which was properly exercised in this instance. 11 Because the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania had not yet considered whether habilitation under the MH/MR Act of 1966 required the choice by the state of the least restrictive environment, while in our (mistaken) view Section 6010 did, we found it unnecessary to speculate about how that Court would...

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