RESPONDENT: Regents of University of Minnesota
LOCATION: Los Angeles City Hall
DOCKET NO.: 00-1514
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: Minnesota Supreme Court
CITATION: 534 US 533 (2002)
ARGUED: Nov 26, 2001
DECIDED: Feb 27, 2002
Howard L. Bolter - Argued the cause for the petitioners
Mark B. Rotenberg - Argued the cause for the respondent
Paul D. Clement - Argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of court, supporting the respondent
Facts of the case
In 1996, Lance Raygor and James Goodchild filed complaints in Federal District Court against the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, stemming from an alleged incident in which the university attempted to compel them to accept early retirement. They refused. Subsequently, their jobs were reclassified to reduce their salaries. The complaints alleged a federal cause of action under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and a state law discrimination action under the federal supplemental jurisdiction statute, which purports to toll the limitations period for supplemental claims while they are pending in federal court and for 30 days after they are dismissed. The District Court ultimately dismissed their cases on Eleventh Amendment grounds. Before the dismissal, Raygor and Goodrich refilled their state law claims in state court. The university contended that the federal supplemental jurisdiction statute did not toll the limitations period on those claims because the Federal District Court never had subject matter jurisdiction over the ADEA claims. Ultimately, the State Supreme Court held the federal supplemental jurisdiction statute unconstitutional when applied to claims against nonconsenting state defendants, such as the university.
Does the federal supplemental jurisdiction statute's tolling provision apply to claims filed in federal court against nonconsenting States?
Media for Raygor v. Regents of University of MinnesotaAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 26, 2001 in Raygor v. Regents of University of Minnesota
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 27, 2002 in Raygor v. Regents of University of Minnesota
William H. Rehnquist:
The opinion of the court in number 00-1514 Raygor versus the Regents of the University of Minnesota will be announced by Justice O’Connor.
Sandra Day O'Connor:
This case comes to us on a writ of certiorari to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
The petitioners Lance Raygor and James Goodchild sued the University of Minnesota in Federal District Court asserting age discrimination claims under both state in federal law.
The claims were based on the allegations that the University had reclassified their jobs and reduced their salaries after the petitioners declined to accept their early retirement.
The District Court dismissed the claims on Eleventh Amendment grounds because the University was an arm of the State of Minnesota.
The petitioners then refiled their State Law claims in State Court.
The University moved to dismiss them based on the applicable state statute of limitation which should have been run, the state said.
The petitioners resisted the dismissal based on a tolling provision in the federal supplemental jurisdiction statute, and that provision purports to toll the limitations period for supplemental state law claims while they are pending in a Federal Court action, and for 30 days after dismissal if that action is dismissed.
The State District Court dismissed the claims, the Court of Appeals reversed, the State Supreme Court reverse the Court of Appeals and held that the Federal tolling provision was unconstitutional.
As applied to claims against a nonconsenting state defendant.
We granted certiorari and we now affirm the judgment of the Minnesota Supreme Court but on different grounds.
The petitioners sought to have their State Law claims heard in Federal Court under the supplemental jurisdiction statute.
The statute does not authorize jurisdiction in Federal Court for State Law claims against nonconseting state defendant, because that would abrogate States' sovereign immunity.
The federal statutes general granted jurisdiction contains no clear statement of an intent to abrogate States' sovereign immunity.
In these circumstances the question before us is whether the Federal Statute tolling provision should be read to apply when those claims are dismissed and refiled in the State Court, and we have recognized that a state of course, in the first instance, can prescribe the terms and conditions on which it consents to be sued on its own state courts.
We relied on a clear statement rule of statutory construction, and that requires Congress to make its intention clear when it alters the constitutional balance between the State and the Federal Government.
We do not reach the constitutional claims here because we read the statute as not being applicable in this circumstances, and because we think the tolling provision properly construed does not apply to petitioners claims we affirm the judgment of the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissing them.
Justice Ginsburg has filed an opinion concurring in part concurring in the judgment; Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion which Justices Souter and Breyer have joined.