Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 503 U.S. 60, 10 (1992)

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Cite as: 503 U. S. 60 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

tion. See, e. g., Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, Inc., 396 U. S. 229, 239 (1969), stating that the "existence of a statutory right implies the existence of all necessary and appropriate remedies"; Carey v. Piphus, 435 U. S. 247, 255 (1978), upholding damages remedy under Rev. Stat. 1979, 42 U. S. C. 1983, even though the enacting Congress had not specifically provided such relief.

The United States contends that the traditional presumption in favor of all appropriate relief was abandoned by the Court in Davis v. Passman, 442 U. S. 228 (1979), and that the Bell v. Hood rule was limited to actions claiming constitutional violations. The United States quotes language in Davis to the effect that "the question of who may enforce a statutory right is fundamentally different from the question of who may enforce a right that is protected by the Constitution." Davis, 442 U. S., at 241. The Government's position, however, mirrors the very misunderstanding over the difference between a cause of action and the relief afforded under it that sparked the confusion we attempted to clarify in Davis. Whether Congress may limit the class of persons who have a right of action under Title IX is irrelevant to the issue in this lawsuit. To reiterate, "the question whether a litigant has a 'cause of action' is analytically distinct and prior to the question of what relief, if any, a litigant may be entitled to receive." Id., at 239. Davis, therefore, did nothing to interrupt the long line of cases in which the Court has held that if a right of action exists to enforce a federal right and Congress is silent on the question of remedies, a federal court may order any appropriate relief. See id., at 247, n. 26 (contrasting Brown v. GSA, 425 U. S. 820 (1976)).6

6 Cases cited by respondents and the United States since Davis are inapposite, either because they involved holdings that plaintiffs had no right of action, see, e. g., Virginia Bankshares, Inc. v. Sandberg, 501 U. S. 1083 (1991); Karahalios v. Federal Employees, 489 U. S. 527 (1989); Thompson


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