Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 503 U.S. 60, 12 (1992)

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

Opinion of the Court

Congress, the federal courts have the power to award any appropriate relief in a cognizable cause of action brought pursuant to a federal statute.


We now address whether Congress intended to limit application of this general principle in the enforcement of Title IX. See Bush v. Lucas, 462 U. S. 367, 378 (1983); Wyandotte Transportation Co. v. United States, 389 U. S. 191, 200 (1967). Because the cause of action was inferred by the Court in Cannon, the usual recourse to statutory text and legislative history in the period prior to that decision necessarily will not enlighten our analysis. Respondents and the United States fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the inquiry, therefore, by needlessly dedicating large portions of their briefs to discussions of how the text and legislative intent behind Title IX are "silent" on the issue of available remedies. Since the Court in Cannon concluded that this statute supported no express right of action, it is hardly surprising that Congress also said nothing about the applicable remedies for an implied right of action.

During the period prior to the decision in Cannon, the inquiry in any event is not " 'basically a matter of statutory construction,' " as the United States asserts. Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 8 (quoting Transamerica Mortgage Advisors, Inc. v. Lewis, 444 U. S. 11, 15 (1979)). Rather, in determining Congress' intent to limit application of the traditional presumption in favor of all appropriate relief, we evaluate the state of the law when the Legislature passed Title IX. Cf. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Curran, 456 U. S. 353, 378 (1982). In the years before and after Congress enacted this statute, the Court "follow[ed] a common-law tradition [and] regarded the denial of a remedy as the exception rather than the rule." Id., at 375 (footnote omitted). As we outlined in Part II, this has been the prevailing presumption in our federal


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