Rowland v. California Men's Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory Council

PETITIONER: Rowland, Former Director, California Department Of Corrections, et al.
RESPONDENT: California Men's Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory Council
LOCATION: Harris County Sheriff’s Department

DOCKET NO.: 91-1188
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 506 US 194 (1993)
ARGUED: Oct 06, 1992
DECIDED: Jan 12, 1993

ADVOCATES:
Charles D. Weisselberg - on behalf of the Respondent
James Ching - on behalf of the Petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Rowland v. California Men's Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory Council

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 06, 1992 in Rowland v. California Men's Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory Council

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 12, 1993 in Rowland v. California Men's Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory Council

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court of in No. 91-1188, Rowland against California Men's Colony will be announced by Justice Souter.

David H. Souter:

This comes to us on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The respondent Men's Advisory Council is an association of California prison inmates.

The Council moved to leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S. Code 1915, which authorizes Federal Courts to favor any person meeting its criteria with the series of benefits including the opportunity to litigate without pre-paying fees, costs, or giving security.

The District Court denied the Council's motion.

The Court of Appeals reversed holding that the Council qualified as a person entitled to 1915 benefits because it was an association within the meaning of 1 U.S. Code 1, which provides an irrelevant part that in determining the meaning of any act of Congress unless the context indicates, otherwise the term "person" includes associations.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk of Court today we reverse the judgment of the Ninth Circuit and hold that only a natural person may qualify for treatment in forma pauperis under Section 1915.

Although we agree that we must let to 1 U.S. Code 1 in determining the meaning of the term "person" in Section 1915.

We conclude that the context of Section 1915 indicates that Congress used the word 'person' in that statutory for only to natural persons, thus, excluding artificial entities such as the Council.

Justice Kennedy has filed a dissenting opinion; Justice Thomas has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Blackmun, Stevens, and Kennedy join.