Board of Trustees of Univ. of Ala. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356 (2001)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the eleventh circuit

No. 99-1240. Argued October 11, 2000—Decided February 21, 2001

Respondents Garrett and Ash filed separate lawsuits against petitioners,

Alabama state employers, seeking money damages under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibits the States and other employers from "discriminat[ing] against a qualified individual with a disability because of th[at] disability . . . in regard to . . . terms, conditions, and privileges of employment," 42 U. S. C. 12112(a). In an opinion disposing of both cases, the District Court granted petitioners summary judgment, agreeing with them that the ADA exceeds Congress' authority to abrogate the State's Eleventh Amendment immunity. The Eleventh Circuit reversed on the ground that the ADA validly abrogates such immunity.

Held: Suits in federal court by state employees to recover money damages by reason of the State's failure to comply with Title I of the ADA are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Pp. 363-374.

(a) Congress may abrogate the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity when it both unequivocally intends to do so and acts pursuant to a valid grant of constitutional authority. Kimel v. Florida Bd. of Regents, 528 U. S. 62, 73. Only the second of these requirements is in dispute here. While Congress may not base abrogation of state immunity upon its Article I powers, see, e. g., id., at 79, it may subject nonconsenting States to federal-court suit when it does so pursuant to a valid exercise of its power under 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, see, e. g., id., at 80. Section 5 authorizes Congress to enforce the substantive guarantees contained in 1 of that Amendment by enacting "appropriate legislation." See City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U. S. 507, 536. Because it is this Court's responsibility, not Congress', to define the substance of constitutional guarantees, id., at 519-524, 5 legislation, to the extent it reaches beyond the precise scope of 1's protections, must exhibit congruence and proportionality between the injury to be prevented or remedied and the means adopted to that end, id., at 520. Pp. 363-365.

(b) The first step in applying these principles is to identify with some precision the scope of the constitutional right at issue. Here, that inquiry requires examination of the limitations 1 of the Fourteenth

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