Rivers v. Roadway Express, Inc., 511 U.S. 298, 7 (1994)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next



Opinion of the Court

Moreover, 1981 (and hence 101) is not limited to employment; because it covers all contracts, see, e. g., Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U. S. 160 (1976), Tillman v. Wheaton-Haven Recreation Assn., Inc., 410 U. S. 431 (1973), a substantial part of 101's sweep does not overlap Title VII. In short, 101 has the effect not only of increasing liability but also of establishing a new standard of conduct.3 Accordingly, for reasons we stated in Landgraf, the important new legal obligations 101 imposes bring it within the class of laws that are presumptively prospective.


Petitioners rely heavily on an argument that was not applicable to 102 of the 1991 Act, the section at issue in Land-graf. They contend that 101 should apply to their case because it was "restorative" of the understanding of 1981 that prevailed before our decision in Patterson. Petitioners advance two variations on this theme: Congress' evident purpose to "restore" pre-Patterson law indicates that it affirmatively intended 101 to apply to cases arising before its enactment; 4 moreover, there is a "presumption in favor of application of restorative statutes" to cases arising before their enactment. Brief for Petitioners 37.


Congress' decision to alter the rule of law established in one of our cases—as petitioners put it, to "legislatively overrul[e]," see id., at 38—does not, by itself, reveal whether Congress intends the "overruling" statute to apply retroac-3 Even in the employment context, 1981's coverage is broader than Title VII's, for Title VII applies only to employers with 15 or more employees, see 42 U. S. C. 2000e(b), whereas 1981 has no such limitation.

4 See Brief for Petitioners 35 ("Congress sought to restore what it and virtually all the lower courts thought had been the reach of 1981 prior to Patterson").

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007