Rizzo v. Goode

LOCATION:Georgia State Capitol

DOCKET NO.: 74-942
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 423 US 362 (1976)
ARGUED: Nov 11, 1975
DECIDED: Jan 21, 1976

James M. Penny, Jr. – for petitioners
Peter Hearn – for respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Rizzo v. Goode

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 11, 1975 in Rizzo v. Goode

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – January 21, 1976 in Rizzo v. Goode

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 74-942, Rizzo against Goode will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

These class actions were brought under Section 1983, principally against the petitioners who are the mayor and police commissioner of the city of Philadelphia, alleging a pervasive pattern of unconstitutional police misconduct.

The District Court, after lengthy proceedings, found that the evidence did not establish the existence of any policy on the part of petitioners to violate the constitutional rights of the respondent classes that find departmental policy to minimize the consequences of police misconduct which was committed by a small percentage of policemen.

The District Court ordered the petitioners to submit a comprehensive program, jacketed complete provision of the police department’s disciplinary procedures.

The petitioners, the city officials appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals since the individual respondents have not demonstrated a real and immediate threat of injury at the hands of petitioners, there is lacking of requisite Article III, case or controversy, as to them.

As to the classes, we find untenable the theories of liability and equitable relief adapted by the lower courts under Section 1983 and conclude that the judgment of the District Court constitutes an unwarranted intrusion by the federal judiciary into the discretionary authority of petitioners, acting as officials understate in local law.

In fashioning prophylactic procedures designed to minimize misconduct by a relatively huge state employees, the District Court is not properly heeded important principles of federalism.

Mr. Justice Blackmun has filed a descending opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice Marshall join.

Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration, or decision of the case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Rehnquist.