KUSH v. RUTLEDGE(1983)
In his action in Federal District Court, and in state administrative and judicial proceedings, respondent, a white male, asserted a variety of common-law and statutory claims against Arizona State University and certain of its officials (including petitioners) arising out of incidents occurring while he was a member of the University's football squad. One of the claims was that three of the petitioners had engaged in a conspiracy to intimidate and threaten various potential material witnesses in order to prevent them from testifying "freely, fully and truthfully" in the action, in violation of the first part of 42 U.S.C. 1985(2) (1976 ed., Supp. V). The District Court dismissed the entire complaint. The Court of Appeals, while affirming the dismissal of certain of respondent's claims and remanding as to others, reversed with respect to the claim at issue. The court concluded that respondent's claims of witness intimidation, insofar as they related to obstruction of justice at the state level, were not actionable under the second part of 1985 (2) - which prohibits a conspiracy to obstruct the due course of justice in a State "with intent to deny any citizen the equal protection of the laws" - because there was no sufficient allegation of racial or class-based invidiously discriminatory animus. The court concluded, however, that such an allegation - which was held to be necessary in Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88 , to avoid creating a general federal tort law with regard to a portion of 1985(3) - was not applicable to alleged intimidation of witnesses in the federal courts in violation of the first part of 1985(2).
No allegations of racial or class-based invidiously discriminatory animus are required to establish a cause of action under the first part of 1985(2). The statutory provisions now codified at 1985 were originally enacted as 2 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, and the substantive meaning of the 1871 Act has not been changed. The provisions relating to institutions and processes of the Federal Government (including the first part of 1985(2)) - unlike those encompassing activity that is usually of primary state concern (including the second part of 1985(2) and the part of 1985(3) involved in Griffin, supra) - contain no language requiring that the conspirators act with intent to deprive their victims of the equal protection of the laws. Thus, the reasoning of Griffin is not applicable here, and given the structure of 2 of the 1871 Act, it is clear that [460 U.S. 719, 720] Congress did not intend to impose a requirement of class-based animus on persons seeking to prove a violation of their rights under the first part of 1985(2). The legislative history supports this conclusion. Pp. 724-727.
660 F.2d 1345, affirmed.
STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
Michael L. Gallagher argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the brief was Michael K. Kennedy.
Robert Ong Hing argued the cause and filed a brief for respondent. *
[ Footnote * ] Charles S. Sims filed a brief for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. as amici curiae urging affirmance.
JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent is a white football player of unknown political affiliation who seeks to recover damages under 42 U.S.C. 1985(2) (1976 ed., Supp. V) for an alleged conspiracy to intimidate potential witnesses in a federal lawsuit. Petitioners argue that the action must be dismissed because there is no claim that the conspiracy was motivated by the kind of "racial, or perhaps otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus" we held to be necessary in Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102 (1971). We reject their contention, because the critical language in 1985(3), the statute that applied to the Griffin conspiracy, does not apply to the violation of the first part of 1985(2) alleged in this case.
The issue before us is narrow and may be briefly stated. In both federal and state tribunals, respondent Rutledge has asserted a variety of common-law and statutory claims against Arizona State University and its officials arising out of incidents that occurred while he was a member of the University's football squad. One of his claims is that three of the petitioners - the Arizona State University athletic director, head football coach, and assistant football coach - [460 U.S. 719, 721] engaged in a conspiracy to intimidate and threaten various potential material witnesses in order to prevent them from testifying "freely, fully and truthfully" in his lawsuit in federal court. 1
The District Court granted a motion to dismiss the entire complaint on the grounds that the action was barred by the Eleventh Amendment and that respondent had failed to allege [460 U.S. 719, 722] a violation of his civil rights. It concluded that respondent had failed to state a 1985 claim because he had not shown that he was a member of an identifiable class, and because his general allegations of a conspiracy were unsupported by specific facts. App. to Pet. for Cert. A-2. The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of all claims against the University and its Board of Regents and of the vicarious liability claims against petitioner Miller, remanded for further proceedings on the other state-law tort claims against petitioners, and affirmed the dismissal of all federal civil rights claims against petitioners except the one at issue here. Rutledge v. Arizona Bd. of Regents, 660 F.2d 1345 (CA9 1981). 2
The Court of Appeals construed respondent's allegations of witness intimidation, see n. 1, supra, as containing two components - obstruction of justice at the state level, and interference with federal litigation. The former was not actionable under the second part of 1985(2), 3 the court held, because "there exists no sufficient allegation of racial or class-based invidiously discriminatory animus." 660 F.2d, at 1355. The court acknowledged that this Court's decision in Griffin v. Breckenridge, supra, had interpreted a portion of 1985(3) to include such a requirement in order to avoid the constitutional issues that would have attended enactment [460 U.S. 719, 723] of a general federal tort law. It decided that the same principles applied to claims based on private conspiracies to obstruct justice in state-court proceedings.
But the Court of Appeals concluded that no allegations of class-based animus were required under the first part of 1985(2), which proscribes intimidation of witnesses in the federal courts. 4 It relied on the plain language of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 and on the legislative history. Noting the Federal Government's unquestioned constitutional authority to protect the processes of its own courts, and the absence of any need to limit the first part of 1985(2) to avoid creating a general federal tort law, the Court of Appeals declined to impose the limitation set forth in Griffin v. Breckenridge. 660 F.2d, at 1355.
Because other Circuits have read the first part of 1985(2) more narrowly, see Kimble v. D. J. McDuffy, Inc., 648 F.2d 340, 346-348 (CA5) (en banc), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1110 (1981); Jones v. United States, 536 F.2d 269, 271 (CA8 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1039 (1977), we granted certiorari limited to the question of statutory construction, 458 U.S. 1120 (1982). As have the Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, McCord v. Bailey, 204 U.S. App. D.C. 334, 345, 636 F.2d 606, 616 (1980), cert. denied, 451 U.S. 983 , (1981), and the Third Circuit, Brawer v. Horowitz, 535 F.2d 830, 840 (1976), we agree with the Ninth Circuit's analysis. 5 [460 U.S. 719, 724]
The statutory provision that is now codified as 1985 of Title 42 of the United States Code was originally enacted as 2 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 17 Stat. 13. The length and style of 2 of the 1871 Act, reprinted in full as an Appendix to this opinion, make it somewhat difficult to parse. Nevertheless, if its several components are carefully identified, its meaning becomes clear.
Although 2 contained only one long paragraph when it was originally enacted, that single paragraph outlawed five broad classes of conspiratorial activity. In general terms, 2 proscribed conspiracies that interfere with (a) the performance of official duties by federal officers; (b) the administration of justice in federal courts; (c) the administration of justice in state courts; (d) the private enjoyment of "equal protection of the laws" and "equal privileges and immunities under the laws"; and (e) the right to support candidates in federal elections. As now codified in 1985, the long paragraph is divided into three subsections. One of the five classes of prohibited conspiracy is proscribed by 1985(1), two by 1985(2), and two by 1985(3). The civil remedy for a violation of any of the subsections is found at the end of 1985(3). The reclassification was not intended to change the substantive meaning of the 1871 Act. 6
Three of the five broad categories, the first two and the fifth, relate to institutions and processes of the Federal Government - federal officers, 1985(1); federal judicial proceedings, the first portion of 1985(2); and federal elections, the second part of 1985(3). The statutory provisions dealing [460 U.S. 719, 725] with these categories of conspiratorial activity contain no language requiring that the conspirators act with intent to deprive their victims of the equal protection of the laws. Nor was such language found in the corresponding portions of 2 of the 1871 Act. See Appendix to this opinion. 7
The remaining two categories, however, encompass underlying activity that is not institutionally linked to federal interests and that is usually of primary state concern. The second part of 1985(2) applies to conspiracies to obstruct the course of justice in state courts, and the first part of 1985(3) provides a cause of action against two or more persons who "conspire or go in disguise on the highway or on the premises of another." 8 Each of these portions of the statute contains language requiring that the conspirators' actions be motivated by an intent to deprive their victims of the equal protection of the laws.
This limiting language was construed in Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88 (1971), a case in which a unanimous Court held that 1985(3) applies to purely private conspiracies. In explaining why that holding would not create an open-ended federal tort law applicable "to all tortious, conspiratorial interferences with the rights of others," id., at 101, we expressly stated: [460 U.S. 719, 726]
Given the structure of 2 of the 1871 Act, it is clear that Congress did not intend to impose a requirement of class-based animus on persons seeking to prove a violation of their rights under the first clause of 1985(2). 9 The legislative [460 U.S. 719, 727] history supports the conclusion we have drawn from the language of the statute. Protection of the processes of the federal courts was an essential component of Congress' solution to disorder and anarchy in the Southern States. Neither proponents nor opponents of the bill had any doubt that the Constitution gave Congress the power to prohibit intimidation of parties, witnesses, and jurors in federal courts. 10
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is
Count Five of the amended complaint, which was added two days after the filing of the original complaint in United States District Court, does not expressly allege that witnesses were intimidated in connection with a federal-court proceeding. It alleges in part that:
[ Footnote 2 ] The Court of Appeals concluded:
[ Footnote 3 ] The second portion of 1985(2) provides:
[ Footnote 4 ] The first part of 1985(2) provides:
[ Footnote 5 ] Our limited grant of certiorari does not encompass the question whether the alleged conspiracy to interfere with witnesses gave rise to any recoverable [460 U.S. 719, 724] damages. This issue remains open for consideration by the District Court on remand from the Court of Appeals.
[ Footnote 6 ] When Congress passed legislation in 1874 to consolidate and collect all federal statutes and laws in the Revised Statutes, 18 Stat. 113, it expressed no intention to change the meaning of the laws, although minor changes in language were made to accommodate the consolidation. Cf. Pott v. Arthur, 104 U.S. 735, 736 (1881).
[ Footnote 7 ] Although the provisions dealing with interference with federal judicial proceedings and state judicial proceedings now appear together in 1985(2), they were separated by other material in the original version of 2. See Appendix to this opinion.
[ Footnote 8 ] For the second clause of 1985(2), see n. 3, supra. The first portion of 1985(3), which actually contains two separate clauses, reads as follows:
[ Footnote 9 ] We are unpersuaded by petitioners' argument that a contrary conclusion is required because the authorization of remedies found at the end of 1985(3) applies to the entire section. The location of the remedial language merely confirms our view that the meaning of any part of 1985 is informed by its entire text.
[ Footnote 10 ] See Cong. Globe, 42d Cong., 1st Sess., 486 (1871) (remarks of Rep. Cook, supporter); id., at App. 220 (remarks of Sen. Thurman, opponent). The legislative history is discussed accurately and persuasively by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in McCord v. Bailey, 204 U.S. App. D.C. 334, 345, 636 F.2d 606, 615-617 (1980), cert. denied, 451 U.S. 983 (1981). [460 U.S. 719, 730]