Schaffer ex rel. Schaffer v. Weast - Oral Argument - October 05, 2005

Schaffer ex rel. Schaffer v. Weast

Media for Schaffer ex rel. Schaffer v. Weast

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - November 14, 2005 in Schaffer ex rel. Schaffer v. Weast

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 05, 2005 in Schaffer ex rel. Schaffer v. Weast

John Paul Stevens:

We will now hear argument in Schaffer against Weast.

Mr. Hurd, you may proceed.

William H. Hurd:

Justice Stevens, and may it please the Court-- As Congress recently reaffirmed, the IDEA was enacted to protect the rights of children with disabilities, and the rights of their parents.

It is an Act intended by Congress to remedy a long history of discrimination that once kept these children from the schoolhouse door.

It is an Act intended, as this Court said in Rowley, to maximize parental involvement and to ensure that these children have access to an appropriate education.

Today, the intent of Congress, as shown by the text, structure, and purposes of the Act, calls for the burden of proof in administrative hearings to be placed on the school system, not on the parent.

The fourth circuit said that placing the burden on the party who initiates proceeding is the traditional rule.

But, there is no single traditional rule.

Instead, there is a collection of different rules.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Now, Congress was silent on this subject of the burden of proof, was it not?

William H. Hurd:

Yes, it was, Justice O'Connor.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Was there... did you find anything in the legislative history... I know some members don't care to look at that, but I would be willing--

[Laughter]

--that shows any discussion at all about the burden of proof question?

William H. Hurd:

We are aware of none, Your Honor. What we... what we have here is a situation where Congress, when it wishes to allocate the burden of proof one way or the other legislatively, knows how to do so.

It did so in the APA, for example, while adopting the rule that the fourth circuit said applies in this case.

But Congress did not adopt the rule in this case.

Antonin Scalia:

Excuse me.

Why didn't it?

I... why wasn't the APA applicable?

William H. Hurd:

Well, Your Honor, the APA governs Federal agencies, it doesn't--

Antonin Scalia:

I see.

William H. Hurd:

--govern proceedings--

Antonin Scalia:

I see.

William H. Hurd:

--under the--

Antonin Scalia:

So--

William H. Hurd:

--under the IDEA.

Antonin Scalia:

--what it if were... what it were a school on a Federal base?

Are they covered by this Act, by the way?

You know--