Opinion of the Court
"In legislation enacted pursuant to the spending power, the typical remedy for state noncompliance with federally imposed conditions is not a private cause of action for noncompliance but rather action by the Federal Government to terminate funds to the State." Id., at 28.
We made clear that unless Congress "speak[s] with a clear voice," and manifests an "unambiguous" intent to confer individual rights, federal funding provisions provide no basis for private enforcement by § 1983. Id., at 17, 28, and n. 21.
Since Pennhurst, only twice have we found spending legislation to give rise to enforceable rights. In Wright v. Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority, 479 U. S. 418 (1987), we allowed a § 1983 suit by tenants to recover past overcharges under a rent-ceiling provision of the Public Housing Act, on the ground that the provision unambiguously conferred "a mandatory [benefit] focusing on the individual family and its income." Id., at 430. The key to our inquiry was that Congress spoke in terms that "could not be clearer," ibid., and conferred entitlements "sufficiently specific and definite to qualify as enforceable rights under Penn-hurst." Id., at 432. Also significant was that the federal agency charged with administering the Public Housing Act "ha[d] never provided a procedure by which tenants could complain to it about the alleged failures [of state welfare agencies] to abide by [the Act's rent-ceiling provision]." Id., at 426.
Three years later, in Wilder v. Virginia Hospital Assn., 496 U. S. 498 (1990), we allowed a § 1983 suit brought by health care providers to enforce a reimbursement provision of the Medicaid Act, on the ground that the provision, much like the rent-ceiling provision in Wright, explicitly conferred specific monetary entitlements upon the plaintiffs. Congress left no doubt of its intent for private enforcement, we said, because the provision required States to pay an "objective" monetary entitlement to individual health care providers, with no sufficient administrative means of enforcing thePage: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007