Grove City College v. Bell

PETITIONER: Grove City College
LOCATION: Grove City College

DOCKET NO.: 82-792
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 465 US 555 (1984)
ARGUED: Nov 29, 1983
DECIDED: Feb 28, 1984

David M. Lascell - Argued the cause for the petitioners
Paul M. Bator - Argued the cause for the respondents

Facts of the case

Grove City College, a private, coeducational liberal arts school, sought to preserve its institutional autonomy by consistently refusing state and federal financial assistance. The College did, however, enroll a large number of students who received Basic Educational Opportunity Grants (BEOG's) through a Department of Education-run program. The DOE concluded that this assistance to students qualified the College as a recipient of federal assistance and made it subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. When the College refused to comply with the requirements, the DOE attempted to terminate assistance to the student financial aid program. The College challenged the DOE's actions.


Was Grove City College subject to federal requirements because its students received federal grants? Did the provisions of Title IX violate the First Amendments rights of the College?

Media for Grove City College v. Bell

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 29, 1983 in Grove City College v. Bell

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Consolidated Rail v. LeStrange.

Thank you, Mr. Justice Brennan.

We will hear arguments first this morning in Grove City College v. Bell.

Mr. Lascell, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

David M. Lascell:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

At issue in this case is whether a private college called Grove City College which seeks to avoid government entanglement, which seeks to remain independent, and which seeks to operate efficiently, must either expel students who receive federal scholarships, or must agree that it is subject to government regulation.

Grove City has never sought nor accepted any federal aid nor grants.

It therefore declined to participate in the BEOG program or any other student assistance program sponsored by state or federal governments.

But that assumes one of the issues in the case, that you have never received any federal funds.

David M. Lascell:

That's correct, Mr. Justice White.


David M. Lascell:

But in terms of the statement of the case, that is the position of the college.

All right, that's the position.

David M. Lascell:

The government acknowledged, as a matter of fact, that Grove City was not participating in the BEOG program, but it asked the college to help by supplying forms for students who might be eligible to participator in the BEOG program and by certifying attendance and costs at the college in order that those students might receive those awards.

The government now claims that what Grove City did means that the college is operating a program which receives federal financial assistance.

There is no claim in this case, nor has there ever been any claim, that Grove City discriminates in any way, nor that it claims any right to discriminate.

Now, the issues in the case can be a little confusing, and we have tried to label them for the convenience of the Court in three ways.

First, we have what we call the recipient issue, that is, whether Grove City operates a program which receives federal financial assistance because some of its students receive BEOG grants.

They use the money to pay their tuition?

David M. Lascell:

Perhaps, but certainly not, not... that is a theoretical possibility, Justice White, but I don't think in this case, in fact, that is what happened, nor do I think that that is what could happen.

In this case the government selects the students, the Court will recall--

But you would be here making the same argument if, even if the students were just conduits through which tuition money passed.

David M. Lascell:

--Well, I would be making the same arguments, but in fact, it seems to me that the BEOG grant statute does not contemplate that the students are conduits but instead contemplates that they are ultimate beneficiaries.

That they could use the money for anything they wanted to.

David M. Lascell:

They can use the money for educational purposes--


David M. Lascell:

--which could include tuition--


David M. Lascell:

--But in this instance, the two students who are involved in this case in fact did not use that money for tuition.

You will recall that neither student received that money until well after tuition and fee payments were due at the college, and in fact, if we closely examine the BEOG program, it is very evident that that money cannot come to those students until after they are in attendance for the semester which they receive the award because the certification does not occur until after students begin classes.