Rivers v. Roadway Express, Inc., 511 U.S. 298, 9 (1994)

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Opinion of the Court

ing of that provision.6 Taken together, petitioners argue, this evidence shows that it was Congress' sense that Patterson had cut back the proper scope of 1981, and that the new legislation would restore its proper scope. Regardless of whether that sense was right or wrong as a technical legal matter, petitioners maintain, we should give it effect by applying 101's broader definition of what it means to "make and enforce" a contract, rather than Patterson's congressionally disapproved reading, to cases pending upon 101's enactment.

We may assume, as petitioners argue, that 101 reflects congressional disapproval of Patterson's interpretation of

6 Thus, for example, the Senate Report on the 1990 civil rights bill that was passed by Congress but vetoed by the President stated:

"The Patterson decision sharply cut back on the scope and effectiveness of section 1981, with profoundly negative consequences both in the employment context and elsewhere. As a result of the decision, the more than 11 million employees in firms that are not covered by Title VII lack any protection against racial harassment and other forms of race discrimination on the job.

. . . . . "Since Patterson was announced, more than 200 claims of race discrimination have been dismissed by federal courts as a result of the decision. Statement of Julius LeVonne Chambers, Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (March 9, 1990). Many persons subjected to blatant bigotry lack any means to obtain relief.

. . . . . "The Committee finds that there is a compelling need for legislation to overrule the Patterson decision and ensure that federal law prohibits all race discrimination in contracts." S. Rep. No. 101-315, pp. 12-14 (1990). Congress' concern with the effects of the Patterson decision in specific cases, including cases in which plaintiffs had won judgments only to have them reversed after Patterson came down, see S. Rep. No. 315, at 13-14, doubtless explains why the 1990 legislation contained a special provision for the reopening of judgments. See Civil Rights Act of 1990, S. 2104, 101st Cong., 2d Sess., 15(b)(3) (1990); see also Landgraf, ante, at 255-256, n. 8. Petitioners do not argue that the 1991 Act should be read to reach cases finally decided.

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