General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581, 22 (2004)

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602

GENERAL DYNAMICS LAND SYSTEMS, INC. v. CLINE

Thomas, J., dissenting

Because 623(a) "does not unambiguously require a different interpretation, and . . . the [EEOC's] regulation is an entirely reasonable interpretation of the text," Barnhart v. Thomas, ante, at 29-30, I would defer to the agency's authoritative conclusion. See United States v. Mead Corp., 533 U. S. 218, 257 (2001) (Scalia, J., dissenting). I respectfully dissent.

Justice Thomas, with whom Justice Kennedy joins, dissenting.

This should have been an easy case. The plain language of 29 U. S. C. 623(a)(1) mandates a particular outcome: that the respondents are able to sue for discrimination against them in favor of older workers. The agency charged with enforcing the statute has adopted a regulation and issued an opinion as an adjudicator, both of which adopt this natural interpretation of the provision. And the only portion of legislative history relevant to the question before us is consistent with this outcome. Despite the fact that these traditional tools of statutory interpretation lead inexorably to the conclusion that respondents can state a claim for discrimination against the relatively young, the Court, apparently disappointed by this result, today adopts a different interpretation. In doing so, the Court, of necessity, creates a new tool of statutory interpretation, and then proceeds to give this newly created "social history" analysis dispositive weight. Because I cannot agree with the Court's new approach to interpreting antidiscrimination statutes, I respectfully dissent.

I

"The starting point for [the] interpretation of a statute is always its language," Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, 490 U. S. 730, 739 (1989), and "courts must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there," Connecticut Nat. Bank v. Germain, 503 U. S. 249, 253-254 (1992). Thus,

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