Monday, August 15, 2005

Continuing on the theme of federal programs and section 1983 claims

In Caswell v. City of Detroit Housing Commission, the Sixth Circuit held that the plaintiff has no section 1983 claim based on the alleged denial of the benefits of the Voucher Program created by regulations implementing Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937. In reaching its conclusion, the Court applied the FERPA case, Gonzaga University v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273 (2002), argued by John Roberts, that was cited in today's article on Medicaid in the NY Times, discussed below.

The Court said:

"Accordingly, when Sandoval and Gonzaga are read together, it becomes clear that in order for Caswell to bring a viable claim under § 1983, he must show that the right, of which he seeks vindication, is conferred by Congress in “clear and unambiguous terms.” Gonzaga, 536 U.S. at 290; id. at 286 (“[W]here the text and structure of a statute provide no indication that Congress intends to create new individual rights, there is no basis for a private suit, whether under § 1983 or under an implied right of action.”). Furthermore, the right conferred must be “phrased in terms of the persons benefited.” Id. at 284 (internal quotation marks omitted). “Statutes that focus on the person regulated rather than the individuals protected create no implication of an intent to confer rights on a particular class of persons.” Sandoval, 532 U.S. at 289 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court made clear in Gonzaga that where a statute simply prohibits certain conduct, or sets forth a policy, that statute does not create a cause of action or other rights for the individual protected by the statute. See 536 U.S. at 287-288."

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