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Law School Case Brief

Cannon v. Univ. of Chi. - 441 U.S. 677, 99 S. Ct. 1946 (1979)


In determining whether a private remedy is implicit in a statute not expressly providing one, several factors are relevant. First, is the plaintiff one of the class for whose especial benefit the statute was enacted—that is, does the statute create a federal right in favor of the plaintiff? Second, is there any indication of legislative intent, explicit or implicit, either to create such a remedy or to deny one? Third, is it consistent with the underlying purposes of the legislative scheme to imply such a remedy for the plaintiff? And finally, is the cause of action one traditionally relegated to state law, in an area basically the concern of the States, so that it would be inappropriate to infer a cause of action based solely on federal law?


Alleging violations of various federal statutes, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C.S. § 1681 et seq.), which prohibits sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, plaintiff Geraldine G. Cannon, a woman who claimed that she had been denied admission to the medical schools of certain universities because of her sex brought an action in federal district court against respondents University of Chicago and others(collectively, "Universities"). the universities and various officials of their medical schools. The Universities filed motions to dismiss the complaint. The district court granted the motions, concluding that no private remedy could be inferred under Title IX because the statute did not expressly authorize a private right of action for a person injured by a violation of the statute. On appeal, the court of appeals affirmed, agreeing that Title IX did not contain an implied private remedy. Cannon was granted a writ of certiorari.


Did Cannon have a private right of action under Title IX?




The Supreme Court of the United States Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court held that notwithstanding Title IX's failure to expressly authorize a private right of action, the intent of the statute was to provide persons injured a private right of action. The Court considered that Title IX explicitly conferred a benefit on persons discriminated against on the basis of sex. Cannon was clearly a member of that class. In addition, the history of Title IX did not indicate any intention to deny a private right of action. Moreover, an award of individual relief to a private litigant was sensible and necessary to its enforcement, the Court reasoned.

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