Rivers v. Roadway Express, Inc., 511 U.S. 298, 18 (1994)

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Cite as: 511 U. S. 298 (1994)

Blackmun, J., dissenting

the enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms, and conditions of the contractual relationship." The majority seemingly accepts petitioners' argument that if this Court were to apply 101 to their case, "respondent has no persuasive claim to unfair surprise, because, at the time the allegedly discriminatory discharge occurred, the Sixth Circuit precedent held that 1981 could support a claim for discriminatory contract termination." Ante, at 309, n. 9.

Nonetheless, applying a new, supercharged version of our traditional presumption against retroactive legislation, the Court concludes that petitioners, whose claim was pending when this Court announced Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U. S. 164 (1989), are bound by that decision, which limited 1981 to contract formation. Patterson's tenure was—or surely should have been—brief, as 101 was intended to overrule Patterson and to deny it further effect. The Court's holding today, however, prolongs the life of that congressionally repudiated decision. See Estate of Reynolds v. Martin, 985 F. 2d 470, 475-476 (CA9 1993) (denying application of 101 to cases pending at its enactment would allow repudiated decisions, including Patterson, to "live on in the federal courts for . . . years").

Although the Court's opinions in this case and in Landgraf do bring needed clarity to our retroactivity jurisprudence, they do so only at the expense of stalling the intended application of remedial and restorative legislation. In its effort to reconcile the "apparent tension," Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. v. Bonjorno, 494 U. S. 827, 837 (1990), between Bradley v. School Bd. of Richmond, 416 U. S. 696 (1974), and Bowen v. Georgetown Univ. Hospital, 488 U. S. 204 (1988), the Court loses sight of the core purpose of its retroactivity doctrine, namely, to respect and effectuate new laws to the extent consistent with congressional intent and with the vested rights and settled expectations of the parties. In Bradley, a unanimous Court applied an intervening statute allowing reasonable attorney's fees for school-


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