Barnes v. Gorman, 536 U.S. 181, 9 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 181 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

Our conclusion is consistent with the "well settled" rule that "where legal rights have been invaded, and a federal statute provides for a general right to sue for such invasion, federal courts may use any available remedy to make good the wrong done." Bell v. Hood, 327 U. S. 678, 684 (1946); see also Franklin, supra, at 66. When a federal-funds recipient violates conditions of Spending Clause legislation, the wrong done is the failure to provide what the contractual obligation requires; and that wrong is "made good" when the recipient compensates the Federal Government or a third-party beneficiary (as in this case) for the loss caused by that failure. See Guardians, 463 U. S., at 633 (Marshall, J., dissenting) ("When a court concludes that a recipient has breached its contract, it should enforce the broken promise by protecting the expectation that the recipient would not discriminate. . . . The obvious way to do this is to put private parties in as good a position as they would have been had the contract been performed"). Punitive damages are not compensatory, and are therefore not embraced within the rule described in Bell.

* * *

Because punitive damages may not be awarded in private suits brought under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it follows that they may not be awarded in suits brought under 202 of the ADA and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.3 This

before: that the "contractual nature" of Spending Clause legislation "has implications for our construction of the scope of available remedies." Gebser, 524 U. S., at 287 (emphasis added). We do not imply, for example, that suits under Spending Clause legislation are suits in contract, or that contract-law principles apply to all issues that they raise. Since Justice Stevens is unable to identify any "far-reaching consequenc[e]" that might reasonably follow from our decision today, and since we are merely occupying ground that the Court has long held, we surely do not deserve his praise that we are "fearless crusaders," post, at 193, n. 2.

3 Justice Stevens believes that our analysis of Title VI does not carry over to the ADA because the latter is not Spending Clause legislation, and identifies "tortious conduct." Post, at 192, 193, n. 2. Perhaps he thinks that it should not carry over, but that is a question for Congress, and


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