Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman

PETITIONER:Pennhurst State School and Hospital
LOCATION:U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

DOCKET NO.: 79-1404
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 451 US 1 (1981)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1980
DECIDED: Apr 20, 1981

Allen C. Warshaw – on behalf of the Petitioners Pennhurst State School and Hospital et al
Drew S. Days, III – on behalf of the United States as Respondent
David Ferleger – on behalf of the Respondents Terri Lee Halderman et al
Joel I. Klein – on behalf of Petitioners Pennhurst Parents-Staff Association
Thomas K. Gilhool – on behalf of the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens as Respondent
Thomas M. Kittredge – on behalf of the Petitioners Suburban Counties et al

Facts of the case


Media for Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 08, 1980 in Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 20, 1981 in Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman

Warren E. Burger:

The disposition and judgments and opinion of the Court in Pennhurst State School & Hospital against Halderman and the consolidated cases will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist along with a second case, United Parcel Service, Incorporated against Mitchell.

William H. Rehnquist:

In Pennhurst, the first of the cases which we have filed an opinion with the clerk with today, the respondents are patients at the Pennhurst State School and Hospital, an institution in Pennsylvania for the care and treatment of the mentally retarded.

They brought suit against Pennhurst and various officials responsible for its operations alleging that the inhumane and dangerous conditions deprived them of various constitutional and statutory rights.

They urge that Pennhurst be closed and that they be moved to smaller less isolated institutions.

The Federal District Court found that certain of the claimed rights were violated and granted the relief sought.

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed on different grounds.

It construed the Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 1975 enacted by Congress and founded Section 6010 of that Act created of mentally retarded persons, a “right to appropriate treatment” in the “least restrictive environment”.

The Act itself established a federal-state grant program whereby the Federal Government will provide financial assistance to any State which agrees to comply with certain conditions.

The Court of Appeals reasoned that because Pennsylvania accepted federal funds under the Act, it was bound under Section 6010 to provide appropriate treatments of — of patients of Pennhurst.

We disagree in an opinion which we have filed today with the Court — with the clerk of the Court.

In our view, Section 6010 only expresses a congressional preference for certain kinds of treatment.

It does not grant rights to patients or require the States to provide special treatment.

We do find, however, that certain other sections of the Act which were not considered by the Court of Appeals may place certain conditions on the State.

Accordingly, we reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and remand for further proceedings.

Mr. Justice Blackmun has filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.

Mr. Justice White joined by Justices Brennan and Marshall has filed a dissent in part.