General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581, 28 (2004)

Page:   Index   Previous  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  Next



Thomas, J., dissenting

"the record is devoid of any evidence that younger workers were suffering at the expense of their elders, let alone that a social problem required a federal statute to place a younger worker in parity with an older one." Ante, at 590-591. Hence, the Court apparently concludes that if Congress has in mind a particular, principal, or primary form of discrimination when it passes an antidiscrimination provision prohibiting persons from "discriminating because of [some personal quality]," then the phrase "discriminate because of [some personal quality]" only covers the principal or most common form of discrimination relating to this personal quality.

The Court, however, has not typically interpreted nondiscrimination statutes in this odd manner. "[S]tatutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed." Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U. S. 75, 79 (1998). The oddity of the Court's new technique of statutory interpretation is highlighted by this Court's contrary approach to the racial-discrimination prohibition of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U. S. C. 2000e et seq.

There is little doubt that the motivation behind the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was to prevent invidious discrimination against racial minorities, especially blacks. See 110 Cong. Rec. 6552 (1964) (statement of Sen. Humphrey) ("The goals of this bill are simple ones: To extend to Negro citizens the same rights and the same opportunities that white Americans take for granted"). President Kennedy, in announcing his Civil Rights proposal, identified several social problems, such as how a "Negro baby born in America today . . . has about one-half as much chance of completing a high school as a white baby . . . one-third as much chance of becoming a professional man, twice as much chance of becoming unemployed, . . . and the prospects of earning only half

Page:   Index   Previous  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007