Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa, 539 U.S. 90, 12 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

vating factor.' " Id., at 853-854 (footnote omitted). Based on that standard, the Court of Appeals held that respond-ent's evidence was sufficient to warrant a mixed-motive instruction and that a reasonable jury could have found that respondent's sex was a "motivating factor in her treatment." Id., at 859. Four judges of the en banc panel dissented, relying in large part on "the reasoning of the prior opinion of the three-judge panel." Id., at 866.

We granted certiorari. 537 U. S. 1099 (2003).


This case provides us with the first opportunity to consider the effects of the 1991 Act on jury instructions in mixed-motive cases. Specifically, we must decide whether a plaintiff must present direct evidence of discrimination in order to obtain a mixed-motive instruction under 42 U. S. C. 2000e-2(m). Petitioner's argument on this point proceeds in three steps: (1) Justice O'Connor's opinion is the holding of Price Waterhouse; (2) Justice O'Connor's Price Waterhouse opinion requires direct evidence of discrimination before a mixed-motive instruction can be given; and (3) the 1991 Act does nothing to abrogate that holding. Like the Court of Appeals, we see no need to address which of the opinions in Price Waterhouse is controlling: the third step of petitioner's argument is flawed, primarily because it is inconsistent with the text of 2000e-2(m).

Our precedents make clear that the starting point for our analysis is the statutory text. See Connecticut Nat. Bank v. Germain, 503 U. S. 249, 253-254 (1992). And where, as here, the words of the statute are unambiguous, the " 'judicial inquiry is complete.' " Id., at 254 (quoting Rubin v. United States, 449 U. S. 424, 430 (1981)). Section 2000e- 2(m) unambiguously states that a plaintiff need only "demonstrat[e]" that an employer used a forbidden consideration with respect to "any employment practice." On its face, the statute does not mention, much less require, that a plaintiff

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