NORTH HAVEN BD. OF EDUC. V. BELL, 456 U. S. 512 (1982)

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U.S. Supreme Court

North Haven Bd. of Educ. v. Bell, 456 U.S. 512 (1982)

North Haven Bd. of Educ. v. Bell

No. 80-986

Argued December 9, 1981

Decided May 17, 1982

456 U.S. 512


Section 901(a) of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 provides that "no person," on the basis of sex, shall

"be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Section 902 authorizes each agency awarding federal financial assistance to any education program to promulgate regulations ensuring that aid recipients adhere to § 901(a), and as a sanction for noncompliance provides for termination of federal funds limited to the particular program, or part thereof, in which such noncompliance has been found. Pursuant to § 902, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), interpreting "person" in § 901(a) to encompass employees as well as students, issued regulations (Subpart E) prohibiting federally funded education programs from discriminating on the basis of sex with respect to employment. Petitioners, federally funded public school boards, when threatened with enforcement proceedings for alleged violations of § 901(a) with respect to board employees, brought separate suits challenging HEW's authority to issue the Subpart E regulations on the alleged ground that § 901(a) was not intended to apply to employment practices, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The District Court in each case granted the school board's motion for summary judgment. In a consolidated appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that § 901(a) was intended to prohibit employment discrimination and that the Subpart E regulations were consistent with § 902.


1. Employment discrimination comes within Title IX's prohibition. Pp. 456 U. S. 520-535.

(a) While § 901(a) does not expressly include employees within its scope or expressly exclude them, its broad directive that "no person" may be discriminated against on the basis of gender, on its face, includes employees as well as students. Pp. 456 U. S. 520-522.

(b) Title IX's legislative history corroborates the conclusion that employment discrimination was intended to come within its prohibition. Pp. 456 U. S. 523-530.

Page 456 U. S. 513

(c) Title IX's postenactment history provides additional evidence of Congress' desire to ban employment discrimination in federally financed education programs. Pp. 456 U. S. 530-535.

2. The Subpart E regulations are valid. Pp. 535 540.

(a) An agency's authority under Title IX both to promulgate regulations and to terminate funds is subject to the program-specific limitation of §§ 901(a) and 902. The Subpart E regulations are not inconsistent with this restriction. Pp. 456 U. S. 535-539.

(b) But whether termination of petitioners' federal funds is permissible under Title IX is a question that must be answered by the District Court in the first instance. Pp. 456 U. S. 539-540.

629 F.2d 773, affirmed and remanded.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J.,and REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 456 U. S. 540.

Page 456 U. S. 514

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