Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 9 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 273 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

requirement against States that failed to comply. 496 U. S., at 522-523.

Our more recent decisions, however, have rejected attempts to infer enforceable rights from Spending Clause statutes. In Suter v. Artist M., 503 U. S. 347 (1992), the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 required States receiving funds for adoption assistance to have a "plan" to make "reasonable efforts" to keep children out of foster homes. A class of parents and children sought to enforce this requirement against state officials under 1983, claiming that no such efforts had been made. We read the Act "in the light shed by Pennhurst," id., at 358, and found no basis for the suit, saying:

"Careful examination of the language . . . does not unambiguously confer an enforceable right upon the Act's beneficiaries. The term 'reasonable efforts' in this context is at least as plausibly read to impose only a rather generalized duty on the State, to be enforced not by private individuals, but by the Secretary in the manner [of reducing or eliminating payments]." Id., at 363.

Since the Act conferred no specific, individually enforceable rights, there was no basis for private enforcement, even by a class of the statute's principal beneficiaries. Id., at 357.

Similarly, in Blessing v. Freestone, 520 U. S. 329 (1997), Title IV-D of the Social Security Act required States receiving federal child-welfare funds to "substantially comply" with requirements designed to ensure timely payment of child support. Five Arizona mothers invoked 1983 against state officials on grounds that state child-welfare agencies consistently failed to meet these requirements. We found no basis for the suit, saying:

"Far from creating an individual entitlement to services, the standard is simply a yardstick for the Secretary to measure the systemwide performance of a State's Title IV-D program. Thus, the Secretary must look to


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