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WASHINGTON LEGAL FOUND. v. ALEXANDER

November 15, 1991

WASHINGTON LEGAL FOUNDATION, Plaintiff,
v.
LAMAR ALEXANDER, and MICHAEL L. WILLIAMS, Defendants


Stanley Sporkin, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

This case is before the Court on defendants Williams' and Alexander's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P., 12(b)(6), 12(b)(1). Because the Court finds that the plaintiff's have presented no cognizable claim under federal law, defendants' motion is granted and this case is dismissed.

 BACKGROUND

 For the purposes of this motion the Court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and takes its allegations as true. McGowan v. Warnecke, 739 F.Supp. 662 (D.D.C. 1990). The alleged facts are as follows.

 Plaintiffs, however, do not bring suit against the universities and law schools who award these scholarships. Instead, they are suing the Department of Education, claiming that despite Title VI's "unambiguous prohibition" against "racial discrimination," that the DOE has failed in its "mandatory obligation affirmatively to enforce Title VI by effective means." Complaint at para. 21-22. The DOE responds that they are in the process of actively reviewing their policy regarding race-based scholarships, but that the issue as to whether and when such scholarships violate Title VI is anything but "unambiguous." There is no basis for this Court to find that the defendant, DOE, is not acting in good faith in their present review of the very policy issue which the WLF has asked this Court to decide.

 Plaintiffs do not limit their request for relief to the alleged harm suffered by the named plaintiffs in this case. Rather, the WLF and the individual plaintiffs would have this Court intervene in DOE affairs by making sweeping policy statements and supervising the enforcement of those policies. First, plaintiffs demand that this Court render a declaratory judgment that "DOE's failure to implement a policy against race-based scholarships is arbitrary, capricious, and/or contrary to law." Complaint at 14. Second, plaintiffs ask the Court to order DOE to issue administrative rules and regulations prohibiting any recipient of DOE funding from awarding a scholarship based on the race of the recipient. Third, plaintiffs ask this Court to supervise DOE in establishing and implementing a comprehensive and "effective" program to enforce Title VI's alleged prohibition against "race-based" scholarships. Id. In short, plaintiffs ask this Court to cut short a complex DOE policy review process and force the agency to design and implement an enforcement scheme to effectuate a policy decision of the Court.

 DISCUSSION

 A private plaintiff must possess a "cause of action" in order to seek judicial enforcement of statutory obligations. See Council of the Blind of Del. Cty. Valley v. Regan, 228 App. D.C. 295, 709 F.2d 1521 (D.C. Cir. 1983). In bringing this suit against the DOE, an agency of the federal government, plaintiffs rely on three federal statutes to supply them with a cause of action.

 First, plaintiffs claim that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act 1964 affords them a cause of action. Second, plaintiffs point to the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA") which creates a general right of judicial review of "agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in court." 5 U.S.C. § 704. Third, plaintiffs cite to the Mandamus Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1361, as entitling them to injunctive relief against these government officials. Plaintiffs' reliance on all of these statutes is misplaced.

 A. Cause of Action Under Title VI

 Title VI provides private plaintiffs no express cause of action against either educational institutions who receive federal funding or the governmental agency charged with enforcement. See Cannon v. University of Chicago, 441 U.S. 677, 699-700, 60 L. Ed. 2d 560, 99 S. Ct. 1946 (1979). Cannon, however, confirmed that an implied cause of action did exist under Title VI for a private plaintiff to sue a discriminatory fund recipient to terminate the offending discrimination. Id. Plaintiffs would now have this Court expand such an implied cause of action to encompass suits against the federal government as well. Both the Supreme Court and this Circuit have found, however, that Congress did not intend such an action to be available.

 The Cannon Court conducted an exhaustive review of Title VI's legislative history in order to determine which implied causes of action were available. In finding Title VI did envision an implied cause of action against the discriminating institutions, the Court specifically contrasted such a cause of action with an action against the government. The Court found:

 "In it's final form, § 601 was far more conducive to implication of a private remedy against a discriminatory recipient than was the original language, but at the same time was arguably less conducive to implication of a private remedy against the Government . . . to compel the cutoff of funds. Although willing to extend private remedies against ...


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