General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581, 32 (2004)

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Thomas, J., dissenting

namely, a statement that age discrimination cuts both ways and a relatively younger individual could sue when discriminated against. See 113 Cong. Rec., at 31255 (statement of Sen. Yarborough).

It is abundantly clear, then, that the Court's new approach to antidiscrimination statutes would lead us far astray from well-settled principles of statutory interpretation. The Court's examination of "social history" is in serious tension (if not outright conflict) with our prior cases in such matters. Under the Court's current approach, for instance, McDonald and Oncale 6 are wrongly decided. One can only hope that this new technique of statutory interpretation does not catch on, and that its errors are limited to only this case.

Responding to this dissent, the Court insists that it is not making this "particular mistake," namely, "confining the application of terms used in a broad sense to the relatively narrow class of cases that prompted Congress to address their subject matter." Ante, at 592, n. 5. It notes that, in contrast to the term "age," the terms "race" and "sex" are "general terms that in every day usage require modifiers to indicate any relatively narrow application." Ante, at 597- 598. The Court, thus, seems to claim that it is merely trying to identify whether the "narrower reading" of the term "age" is "the more natural one in the textual setting." Ante, at 598.7 But the Court does not seriously attempt to ana-6 "[M]ale-on-male sexual harassment in the workplace was assuredly not the principal evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII." Oncale, 523 U. S., at 79. I wonder if there is even a single reference in all the committee reports and congressional debates on Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination to any "social problem requir[ing] a federal statute [to correct]," ante, at 591, arising out of excessive male-on-male sexual harassment.

7 The Court phrases this differently: It states that the "prohibition of age discrimination is readily read more narrowly than analogous provisions dealing with race and sex." Ante, at 598 (emphasis added). But this can only be true if the Court believes that the term "age" is more appropriately read in the narrower sense.

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