Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa, 539 U.S. 90, 13 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 90 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

make a heightened showing through direct evidence. Indeed, petitioner concedes as much. Tr. of Oral Arg. 9.

Moreover, Congress explicitly defined the term "demonstrates" in the 1991 Act, leaving little doubt that no special evidentiary showing is required. Title VII defines the term " 'demonstrates' " as to "mee[t] the burdens of production and persuasion." 2000e(m). If Congress intended the term " 'demonstrates' " to require that the "burdens of production and persuasion" be met by direct evidence or some other heightened showing, it could have made that intent clear by including language to that effect in 2000e(m). Its failure to do so is significant, for Congress has been unequivocal when imposing heightened proof requirements in other circumstances, including in other provisions of Title 42. See, e. g., 8 U. S. C. 1158(a)(2)(B) (stating that an asylum application may not be filed unless an alien "demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence" that the application was filed within one year of the alien's arrival in the United States); 42 U. S. C. 5851(b)(3)(D) (providing that "[r]elief may not be ordered" against an employer in retaliation cases involving whistleblowers under the Atomic Energy Act where the employer is able to "demonstrat[e] by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same unfavorable personnel action in the absence of such behavior" (emphasis added)); cf. Price Waterhouse, 490 U. S., at 253 (plurality opinion) ("Only rarely have we required clear and convincing proof where the action defended against seeks only conventional relief").

In addition, Title VII's silence with respect to the type of evidence required in mixed-motive cases also suggests that we should not depart from the "[c]onventional rul[e] of civil litigation [that] generally appl[ies] in Title VII cases." Ibid. That rule requires a plaintiff to prove his case "by a preponderance of the evidence," ibid., using "direct or circumstantial evidence," Postal Service Bd. of Governors v. Aikens, 460 U. S. 711, 714, n. 3 (1983). We have often acknowledged


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