General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581, 26 (2004)

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Thomas, J., dissenting

of the statute. The Court's position, on the other hand, is untenable. Even if the Court disagrees with my interpretation of the language of the statute, it strains credulity to argue that such a reading is so unreasonable that an agency could not adopt it. To suggest that, in the instant case, the "regular interpretive method leaves no serious question, not even about purely textual ambiguity in the ADEA," ibid., is to ignore the entirely reasonable (and, incidentally, correct) contrary interpretation of the ADEA that the EEOC and I advocate.

Finally, the only relevant piece of legislative history addressing the question before the Court—whether it would be possible for a younger individual to sue based on discrimination against him in favor of an older individual—comports with the plain reading of the text. Senator Yarborough, in the only exchange that the parties identified from the legislative history discussing this particular question, confirmed that the text really meant what it said. See 113 Cong. Rec. 31255 (1967).2 Although the statute is clear, and hence there is no need to delve into the legislative history, this history merely confirms that the plain reading of the text is correct.


Strangely, the Court does not explain why it departs from accepted methods of interpreting statutes. It does, however, clearly set forth its principal reason for adopting its particular reading of the phrase "discriminate . . . based on [an] individual's age" in Part III-A of its opinion. "The point here," the Court states, "is that we are not asking an abstract question about the meaning of 'age'; we are seeking the meaning of the whole phrase 'discriminate . . . because of such individual's age.' . . . As we have said, social history emphatically reveals an understanding of age discrimination as aimed against the old, and the statutory reference to age

2 See ante, at 598 (citing exchange between Sens. Yarborough and Javits).

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