MR. JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.
After finding that conditions in the Arkansas penal system constituted cruel and unusual punishment, the District Court entered a series of detailed remedial orders. On appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, petitioners
This litigation began in 1969; it is a sequel to two earlier cases holding that conditions in the Arkansas prison system violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The routine conditions that the ordinary Arkansas convict had to endure were characterized by the District Court as "a dark and evil world completely alien to the free world." Holt v. Sarver, 309 F.Supp. 362. 381 (ED Ark. 1970) (Holt II). That characterization was amply supported by the evidence.
Confinement in punitive isolation was for an indeterminate period of time. An average of 4, and sometimes as many as 10 or 11, prisoners were crowded into windowless 8′ x 10′ cells containing no furniture other than a source of water and a toilet that could only be flushed from outside the cell. Holt v. Sarver, 300 F.Supp. 825, 831-832 (ED Ark. 1969) (Holt I). At night the prisoners were given mattresses to spread on the floor. Although some prisoners suffered from infectious diseases such as hepatitis and venereal disease, mattresses were removed and jumbled together each morning,
After finding the conditions of confinement unconstitutional, the District Court did not immediately impose a detailed remedy of its own. Instead, it directed the Department of Correction to "make a substantial start" on improving conditions and to file reports on its progress. Holt I, supra, at 833-834. When the Department's progress proved unsatisfactory, a second hearing was held. The District Court found some improvements, but concluded that prison conditions remained unconstitutional. Holt II, 309 F. Supp., at 383. Again the court offered prison administrators an opportunity to devise a plan of their own for remedying the constitutional violations, but this time the court issued guidelines, identifying four areas of change that would cure the worst evils: improving conditions in the isolation cells, increasing inmate safety, eliminating the barracks sleeping arrangements, and putting an end to the trusty system. Id., at 385. The Department was ordered to move as rapidly as funds became available. Ibid.
After this order was affirmed on appeal, Holt v. Sarver, 442 F.2d 304 (CA8 1971), more hearings were held in 1972 and 1973 to review the Department's progress. Finding substantial improvements, the District Court concluded that continuing supervision was no longer necessary. The court held,
The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's decision to withdraw its supervisory jurisdiction, Finney v. Arkansas Board of Correction, 505 F.2d 194 (CA8 1974), and the District Court held a fourth set of hearings. 410 F.Supp. 251 (ED Ark. 1976). It found that, in some respects, conditions had seriously deteriorated since 1973, when the court had withdrawn its supervisory jurisdiction. Cummins Farm, which the court had condemned as overcrowded in 1970 because it housed 1,000 inmates, now had a population of about 1,500. Id., at 254-255. The situation in the punitive isolation cells was particularly disturbing. The court concluded that either it had misjudged conditions in these cells in 1973 or conditions had become much worse since then. Id., at 275. There were twice as many prisoners as beds in some cells. And because inmates in punitive isolation are often violently antisocial, overcrowding led to persecution of the weaker prisoners. The "grue" diet was still in use, and practically all inmates were losing weight on it. The cells had been vandalized to a "very substantial" extent. Id., at 276. Because of their inadequate numbers, guards assigned to the punitive isolation cells frequently resorted to physical violence, using nightsticks and Mace in their efforts to maintain order. Prisoners were sometimes left in isolation for months, their release depending on "their attitudes as appraised by prison personnel." Id., at 275.
The court concluded that the constitutional violations identified earlier had not been cured. It entered an order that placed limits on the number of men that could be confined in one cell, required that each have a bunk, discontinued the "grue" diet, and set 30 days as the maximum isolation sentence. The District Court gave detailed consideration to
The Eighth Amendment's ban on inflicting cruel and unusual punishments, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, "proscribe[s] more than physically barbarous punishments." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102. It prohibits penalties that are grossly disproportionate to the offense, Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349, 367, as well as those that transgress today's "`broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency.'" Estelle v. Gamble, supra, at 102, quoting Jackson v. Bishop, 404 F.2d 571, 579 (CA8 1968). Confinement in a prison or in an isolation cell is a form of punishment subject to scrutiny under Eighth Amendment standards. Petitioners do not challenge this proposition; nor do they disagree with the District Court's original conclusion that conditions in Arkansas' prisons, including its punitive isolation cells, constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Rather, petitioners single out that portion of the District Court's most recent order that forbids the Department to sentence inmates to more than 30 days in punitive isolation. Petitioners assume that the District Court held that indeterminate sentences to punitive isolation always constitute cruel and unusual punishment. This assumption misreads the District Court's holding.
Read in its entirety, the District Court's opinion makes it abundantly clear that the length of isolation sentences was not considered in a vacuum. In the court's words, punitive isolation "is not necessarily unconstitutional, but it may be, depending on the duration of the confinement and the conditions
The question before the trial court was whether past constitutional violations had been remedied. The court was entitled to consider the severity of those violations in assessing the constitutionality of conditions in the isolation cells. The court took note of the inmates' diet, the continued overcrowding, the rampant violence, the vandalized cells, and the "lack of professionalism and good judgment on the part of maximum security personnel." 410 F. Supp., at 277 and 278. The length of time each inmate spent in isolation was simply one consideration among many. We find no error in the court's conclusion that, taken as a whole, conditions in the isolation cells continued to violate the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
In fashioning a remedy, the District Court had ample authority to go beyond earlier orders and to address each element contributing to the violation. The District Court had given the Department repeated opportunities to remedy the cruel and unusual conditions in the isolation cells. If petitioners had fully complied with the court's earlier orders, the present time limit might well have been unnecessary. But taking the long and unhappy history of the litigation into account, the court was justified in entering a comprehensive order to insure against the risk of inadequate compliance.
The Attorney General of Arkansas, whose office has represented petitioners throughout this litigation, contends that any award of fees is prohibited by the Eleventh Amendment. He also argues that the Court of Appeals incorrectly held that fees were authorized by the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976. We hold that the District Court's award is adequately supported by its finding of bad faith and that the Act supports the additional award by the Court of Appeals.
A. The District Court Award
Although the Attorney General argues that the finding of bad faith does not overcome the State's Eleventh Amendment protection, he does not question the accuracy of the finding made by the District Court and approved by the Court of Appeals.
In the landmark decision in Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, the Court held that, although prohibited from giving orders directly to a State, federal courts could enjoin state officials in their official capacities. And in Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, when the Court held that the Amendment grants the States an immunity from retroactive monetary relief, it reaffirmed the principle that state officers are not immune from prospective injunctive relief. Aware that the difference between retroactive and prospective relief "will not in many instances be that between day and night," id., at 667, the Court emphasized in Edelman that the distinction did not immunize the States from their obligation to obey costly federal-court orders. The cost of compliance is "ancillary" to the prospective order enforcing federal law. Id., at 668.
The present case requires application of that principle. In exercising their prospective powers under Ex parte Young and Edelman v. Jordan, federal courts are not reduced to issuing injunctions against state officers and hoping for compliance. Once issued, an injunction may be enforced. Many of the court's most effective enforcement weapons involve financial penalties. A criminal contempt prosecution for "resistance to [the court's] lawful . . . order" may result in a jail term or a fine. 18 U. S. C. § 401 (1976 ed.). Civil contempt proceedings may yield a conditional jail term or fine. United States v.
In this case, the award of attorney's fees for bad faith served the same purpose as a remedial fine imposed for civil contempt. It vindicated the District Court's authority over a recalcitrant litigant. Compensation was not the sole motive for the award; in setting the amount of the fee, the court said that it would "make no effort to adequately compensate counsel for the work that they have done or for the time that they have spent on the case." 410 F. Supp., at 285. The court did allow a "substantial" fee, however, because "the allowance thereof may incline the Department to act in such a manner that further protracted litigation about the prisons will not be necessary." Ibid.
Instead of assessing the award against the defendants in their official capacities, the District Court directed that the fees are "to be paid out of Department of Correction funds." Ibid. Although the Attorney General objects to the form of the order,
B. The Court of Appeals Award
Petitioners, as the losing litigants in the Court of Appeals, were ordered to pay an additional $2,500 to counsel for the prevailing parties "for their services on this appeal." 548 F. 2d, at 743. The order does not expressly direct the Department of Correction to pay the award, but since petitioners are sued in their official capacities, and since they are represented by the Attorney General, it is obvious that the award will be paid with state funds. It is also clear that this order is not supported by any finding of bad faith. It is founded instead on the provisions of the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976. Pub. L. No. 94-559, 90 Stat. 2641, 42 U. S. C. § 1988 (1976 ed.). The Act declares that, in suits under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 and certain other statutes, federal courts may award prevailing parties reasonable attorney's fees "as part of the costs."
As this Court made clear in Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S. 445, Congress has plenary power to set aside the States' immunity from retroactive relief in order to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment. When it passed the Act, Congress undoubtedly intended to exercise that power and to authorize fee awards
The legislative history is equally plain: "[I]t is intended that the attorneys' fees, like other items of costs, will be collected either directly from the official, in his official capacity, from funds of his agency or under his control, or from the State or local government (whether or not the agency or government is a named party)." S. Rep. No. 94-1011, p. 5 (1976) (footnotes omitted). The House Report is in accord: "The greater resources available to governments provide an ample base from which fees can be awarded to the prevailing plaintiff in suits against governmental officials or entities." H. R. Rep. No. 94-1558, p. 7 (1976). The Report adds in a footnote that: "Of course, the 11th Amendment is not a bar to the awarding of counsel fees against state governments. Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer." Id., at 7 n. 14. Congress' intent was expressed in deeds as well as words. It rejected at least two attempts to amend the Act and immunize state and local governments from awards.
The Attorney General does not quarrel with the rule established in Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, supra. Rather, he argues that these plain indications of legislative intent are not enough. In his view, Congress must enact express statutory language making the States liable if it wishes to abrogate their immunity.
The Act imposes attorney's fees "as part of the costs." Costs have traditionally been awarded without regard for the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity. The practice of awarding costs against the States goes back to 1849 in this Court. See Missouri v. Iowa, 7 How. 660, 681; North Dakota v. Minnesota, 263 U.S. 583 (collecting cases). The Court has never viewed the Eleventh Amendment as barring such awards, even in suits between States and individual litigants.
Just as a federal court may treat a State like any other litigant when it assesses costs, so also may Congress amend its definition of taxable costs and have the amended class of costs apply to the States, as it does to all other litigants, without expressly stating that it intends to abrogate the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity. For it would be absurd to require an express
There is ample precedent for Congress' decision to authorize an award of attorney's fees as an item of costs. In England, costs "as between solicitor and client," Sprague v. Ticonic Nat. Bank, 307 U.S. 161, 167, are routinely taxed today, and have been awarded since 1278. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. v. Wilderness Society, 421 U.S. 240, 247 n. 18. In America, although fees are not routinely awarded, there are a large number of statutory and common-law situations in which allowable costs include counsel fees.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is accordingly affirmed.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, concurring.
I join fully in the opinion of the Court and write separately only to answer points made by MR. JUSTICE POWELL.
I agree with the Court that there is no reason in this case to decide more than whether 42 U. S. C. § 1988 (1976 ed.), itself authorizes awards of attorney's fees against the States. MR. JUSTICE POWELL takes the view, however, that unless 42 U. S. C. § 1983 also authorizes damages awards against the States, the requirements of the Eleventh Amendment are not met. Citing Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651 (1974), he concludes that § 1983 does not authorize damages awards against the State and accordingly, that § 1988 does not either. There are a number of difficulties with this syllogism, but the most striking is its reliance on Edelman v. Jordan, a case whose foundations would seem to have been seriously undermined
It cannot be gainsaid that this Court in Edelman rejected the argument that 42 U. S. C. § 1983 "was intended to create a waiver of a State's Eleventh Amendment immunity merely because an action could be brought under that section against state officers, rather than against the State itself." 415 U. S., at 676-677. When Edelman was decided, we had affirmed monetary awards against the States only when they had consented to suit or had waived their Eleventh Amendment immunity. See, e. g., Petty v. Tennessee-Missouri Bridge Comm'n, 359 U.S. 275 (1959); Parden v. Terminal R. Co., 377 U.S. 184 (1964); Employees v. Missouri Public Health & Welfare Dept., 411 U.S. 279 (1973). In Edelman, we summarized the rule of our cases as follows: The "question of waiver or consent under the Eleventh Amendment was found in [our] cases to turn on whether Congress had intended to abrogate the immunity in question, and whether the State by its participation in [a regulated activity] authorized by Congress had in effect consented to the abrogation of [Eleventh Amendment] immunity." 415 U. S., at 672. At the very least, such consent could not be found unless Congress had authorized suits against "a class of defendants which literally includes States." Ibid. It was a short jump from that proposition, to the conclusion that § 1983—which was then thought to include only natural persons among those who could be party defendants, see Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 187-191 (1961)—was not in the class of statutes that might lead to a waiver of Eleventh Amendment immunity. This is best summed up by MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST, the author of Edelman, in his opinion for the Court in Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, supra:
But time has not stood still. Two Terms ago, we decided Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, which for the first time in the recent history of the Court asked us to decide "the question of the relationship between the Eleventh Amendment and the enforcement power granted to Congress under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment."
Then, in Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, supra, decided only weeks ago, we held that the Congress which passed the Civil Rights Act of 1871, now § 1983—a statute enacted pursuant to § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, see 436 U. S., at 665—"did intend municipalities and other local government units to be included among those persons to whom § 1983 applies." Id., at 690. This holding alone would appear to be enough to vitiate the vitality of Fitzpatrick's explanation of Edelman.
The phrase "bodies politic and corporate" is now, and certainly would have been in 1871, a synonym for the word "State." See, e. g., United States v. Maurice, 26 F. Cas. 1211, 1216 (No. 15,747) (CC Va. 1823) (Marshall, C. J.) ("The United States is a government and, consequently, a body politic and corporate"). See also Pfizer Inc. v. Government of India, 434 U.S. 308 (1978).
Given our holding in Monell, the essential premise of our Edelman holding—that no statute involved in Edelman authorized suit against "a class of defendants which literally includes States," 415 U. S., at 672—would clearly appear to be no longer true. Moreover, given Fitzpatrick's holding that Congress has plenary power to make States liable in damages when it acts pursuant to § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, it is surely at least an open question whether § 1983 properly construed does not make the States liable for relief of all kinds, notwithstanding the Eleventh Amendment. Whether this is
MR. JUSTICE POWELL, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
While I join Parts I
Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 676-677 (1974), rejected the argument that 42 U. S. C. § 1983 "was intended to create a waiver of the State's Eleventh Amendment immunity merely because an action could be brought under that section against state officers, rather than against the State itself." In a § 1983
The Court notes that the Committee Reports and the defeat of two proposed amendments indicate a purpose to authorize counsel-fee awards against the States. Ante, at 694. That evidence might provide persuasive support for a finding of "waiver" if this case involved "a congressional enactment which by its terms authorized suit by designated plaintiffs against a general class of defendants which literally included
Notwithstanding the limitations of the Court's first ground of justification, see ante, at 697 n. 27, I am unwilling to ignore otherwise applicable principles simply because the statute in question imposes substantial monetary liability as an element of "costs." Counsel fees traditionally have not been part of the routine litigation expenses assessed against parties in American courts. Cf. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. v. Wilderness Society, 421 U.S. 240 (1975); Arcambel v. Wiseman, 3 Dall. 306 (1796). Quite unlike those routine expenses, an award of counsel fees may involve substantial sums and is not a charge intimately related to the mechanics of the litigation. I therefore cannot accept the Court's assumption that counsel-fee awards are part of "the ordinary discipline of the courtroom." Ante, at 696 n. 24.
The Court's second ground for application of a diluted "clear statement" rule stems from language in Fitzpatrick recognizing that "[w]hen Congress acts pursuant to § 5" of the Fourteenth Amendment, "it is exercising [legislative] authority under one section of a constitutional Amendment whose other sections by their own terms embody limitations on state authority," 427 U. S., at 456. I do not view this language as overruling, by implication, Edelman's holding that no waiver is present in § 1983
MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST, dissenting.
The Court's affirmance of a District Court's injunction against a prison practice which has not been shown to violate the Constitution can only be considered an aberration in light of decisions as recently as last Term carefully defining the remedial discretion of the federal courts. Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman, 433 U.S. 406 (1977); Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267 (1977) (Milliken II). Nor are any of the several theories which the Court advances in support of its affirmance of the assessment of attorney's fees against the taxpayers of Arkansas sufficiently convincing to overcome the prohibition of the Eleventh Amendment. Accordingly, I dissent.
No person of ordinary feeling could fail to be moved by the Court's recitation of the conditions formerly prevailing in the Arkansas prison system. Yet I fear that the Court has allowed itself to be moved beyond the well-established bounds limiting the exercise of remedial authority by the federal district courts. The purpose and extent of that discretion in another context were carefully defined by the Court's opinion last Term in Milliken II, supra, at 280-281:
Certainly the provision is not remedial in the sense that it "restore[s] the victims of discriminatory conduct to the position they would have occupied in the absence of such conduct." Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717, 746 (1974) (Milliken I). The sole effect of the provision is to grant future offenders against prison discipline greater benefits than the Constitution requires; it does nothing to remedy the plight of past victims of conditions which may well have been unconstitutional. A prison is unlike a school system, in which students in the later grades may receive special instruction to compensate for discrimination to which they were subjected in the
The Court's only asserted justification for its affirmance of the decree, despite its dissimilarity to remedial decrees in other contexts, is that it is "a mechanical—and therefore an easily enforced—method of minimizing overcrowding." Ante, at 688 n. 11. This conclusion fails adequately to take into account the third consideration cited in Milliken II: "the interests of state and local authorities in managing their own affairs, consistent with the Constitution." 433 U. S., at 281. The prohibition against extended punitive isolation, a practice which has not been shown to be inconsistent with the Constitution, can only be defended because of the difficulty of policing the District Court's explicit injunction against the overcrowding and inadequate diet which have been found to be violative of the Constitution. But even if such an expansion of remedial authority could be justified in a case where the defendants had been repeatedly contumacious, this is not such a case. The District Court's dissatisfaction with petitioners' performance under its earlier direction to "make a substantial start," Holt v. Sarver, 300 F.Supp. 825, 833 (ED Ark. 1969), on alleviating unconstitutional conditions cannot support an inference that petitioners are prepared to defy the specific orders now laid down by the District Court and not challenged by the petitioners. A proper respect for "the interests of state and local authorities in managing their own
The District Court's order enjoins a practice which has not been found inconsistent with the Constitution. The only ground for the injunction, therefore, is the prophylactic one of assuring that no unconstitutional conduct will occur in the future. In a unitary system of prison management there would be much to be said for such a rule, but neither this Court nor any other federal court is entrusted with such a management role under the Constitution.
The Court advances separate theories to support the separate awards of attorney's fees in this case. First, the Court holds that the taxpayers of Arkansas may be held responsible for the bad faith of their officials in the litigation before the District Court. Second, it concludes that the award of fees in the Court of Appeals, where there was no bad faith, is authorized by the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976. Pub. L. No. 94-559, 90 Stat. 2641, 42 U. S. C. § 1988 (1976 ed.). The first holding results in a totally unnecessary intrusion upon the State's conduct of its own affairs, and the second is not supportable under this Court's earlier decisions outlining congressional authority to abrogate the protections of the Eleventh Amendment.
Petitioners do not contest the District Court's finding that they acted in bad faith. For this reason, the Court has no
The ancillary-effect doctrine recognized in Edelman is a necessary concomitant of a federal court's authority to require state officials to conform their conduct to the dictates of the Constitution. "State officials, in order to shape their official conduct to the mandate of the Court's decrees, would more likely have to spend money from the state treasury than if they had been left free to pursue their previous course of conduct." Id., at 668. The Court today suggests that a federal court may impose a retroactive financial penalty upon a State when it fails to comply with prospective relief previously and validly ordered. "If a state agency refuses to adhere to a court order, a financial penalty may be the most effective means of insuring compliance." Ante, at 691. This application of the ancillary-effect doctrine has never before been recognized by this Court, and there is no need to do so in this case, since it has not been shown that these petitioners have "refuse[d] to adhere to a court order." A State's jealous defense of its authority to operate its own correctional system cannot casually be equated with contempt of court.
The Court presents no persuasive reason for its conclusion that the decision of who must pay such fees may not safely be left to the State involved. It insists, ante, at 699 n. 32, that it is "manifestly unfair" to leave the individual state officers to pay the award of counsel fees rather than permitting their collection directly from the state treasury. But petitioners do not contest the District Court's finding that they acted in bad faith, and thus the Court's insistence that it is "unfair" to impose attorney's fees on them individually rings somewhat hollow.
For the reasons stated in the dissenting portion of my Brother POWELL'S opinion, which I join, I do not agree that the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976 can be considered a valid congressional abrogation of the State's Eleventh Amendment immunity. I have in addition serious reservations about the lack of any analysis accompanying the Court's transposition of the holding of Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S. 445 (1976), to this case. In Fitzpatrick, we held that under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment Congress could explicitly allow for recovery against state agencies without violating the Eleventh Amendment. But in Fitzpatrick, supra, there was conceded to be a violation of the Equal Protection Clause which is contained in haec verba in the language of the Fourteenth Amendment itself. In this case the claimed constitutional violation is the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment, which is expressly prohibited by the Eighth but not by the Fourteenth Amendment. While the Court has held that the Fourteenth Amendment "incorporates" the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, it is not at all clear to me that if follows that Congress has the same enforcement power
I would therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals in its entirety.
The inmates slept together in large, 100-man barracks, and some convicts, known as "creepers," would slip from their beds to crawl along the floor, stalking their sleeping enemies. In one 18-month period, there were 17 stabbings, all but 1 occurring in the barracks. Holt I, supra, at 830-831. Homosexual rape was so common and uncontrolled that some potential victims dared not sleep; instead they would leave their beds and spend the night clinging to the bars nearest the guards' station. Holt II, supra, at 377.
The Department also suggests that the District Court made rehabilitation a constitutional requirement. The court did note its agreement with an expert witness who testified "that punitive isolation as it exists at Cummins today serves no rehabilitative purpose, and that it is counterproductive." Id., at 277. The court went on to say that punitive isolation "makes bad men worse. It must be changed." Ibid. We agree with the Department's contention that the Constitution does not require that every aspect of prison discipline serve a rehabilitative purpose. Novak v. Beto, 453 F.2d 661, 670-671 (CA5 1971); Nadeau v. Helgemoe, 561 F.2d 411, 415-416 (CA1 1977). But the District Court did not impose a new legal test. Its remarks form the transition from a detailed description of conditions in the isolation cells to a traditional legal analysis of those conditions. The quoted passage simply summarized the facts and presaged the legal conclusion to come.
"The Court, however, is limited in its inquiry to the question of whether or not the constitutional rights of inmates are being invaded and with whether the Penitentiary itself is unconstitutional. The Court is not judicially concerned with questions which in the last analysis are addressed to legislative and administrative judgment. A practice that may be bad from the standpoint of penology may not necessarily be forbidden by the Constitution."
"In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of §§ 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1981 of the Revised Statutes [42 U. S. C. §§ 1981-1983, 1985, 1986], title IX of Public Law 92-318 [20 U. S. C. § 1681 et seq. (1976 ed.)], or in any civil action or proceeding, by or on behalf of the United States of America, to enforce, or charging a violation of, a provision of the United States Internal Revenue Code [26 U. S. C. § 1 et seq. (1976 ed.)], or title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [42 U. S. C. § 2000d et seq.], the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs." 90 Stat. 2641.
The present Act, in contrast, has a history focusing directly on the question of state liability: Congress considered and firmly rejected the suggestion that States should be immune from fee awards. Moreover, the Act is not part of an intricate regulatory scheme offering alternative methods of obtaining relief. If the Act does not impose liability for attorney's fees on the States, it has no meaning with respect to them. Finally, the claims asserted in Employees and in Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, were based on a statute rooted in Congress' Art. I power. See Employees, supra, at 281 (claim based on Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U. S. C. § 201 et seq.); Edelman v. Jordan, supra, at 674 (underlying claim based on Social Security Act Provisions dealing with aid to aged, blind, and disabled, 42 U. S. C. §§ 1381-1385). In this case, as in Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S. 445, the claim is based on a statute enacted to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment. As we pointed out in Fitzpatrick:
"[T]he Eleventh Amendment, and the principle of state sovereignty which it embodies . . . are necessarily limited by the enforcement provisions of § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment . . . . When Congress acts pursuant to § 5, not only is it exercising legislative authority that is plenary within the terms of the constitutional grant, it is exercising that authority under one section of a constitutional Amendment whose other sections by their own terms embody limitations on state authority." Id., at 456.
Cf. National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833, 852 n. 17. Applying the standard appropriate in a case brought to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment, we have no doubt that the Act is clear enough to authorize the award of attorney's fees payable by the State.
While it has been suggested that "[t]he legislative changes that made state governments liable under Title VII closely paralleled the changes that made state governments liable under the Fair Labor Standards Act," Baker, Federalism and the Eleventh Amendment, 48 U. Colo. L. Rev. 139, 171 n. 152 (1977), comparing Fitzpatrick, 427 U. S., at 449 n. 2, with Employees, 411 U. S., at 282-283, the statute considered in Fitzpatrick made explicit reference to the availability of a private action against state and local governments in the event the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Attorney General failed to bring suit or effect a conciliation agreement. Equal Opportunity Employment Act of 1972, 86 Stat. 104, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-5 (f) (1) (1970 ed., Supp. V); see H. R. Rep. No. 92-238, pp. 17-19 (1971); S. Rep. No. 92-415, pp. 9-11 (1971); S.Conf. Rep. No. 92-681, pp. 17-18 (1972); H. R. Conf. Rep. No. 92-899, pp. 17-18 (1972).
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN'S opinion appears to dispense with the "clear statement" requirement altogether, a position that the Court does not embrace today. It relies on the reference to "bodies politic" in the "Dictionary Act," Act of Feb. 25, 1871, 16 Stat. 431, as adequate to override the States' constitutional immunity, even though there is no evidence of a congressional purpose in 1871 to abrogate the protections of the Eleventh Amendment. But the Court's rulings in Edelman and Employees are rendered obsolete if provisions like the "Dictionary Act" are all that is necessary to expose the States to monetary liability. After a century of § 1983 jurisprudence, in which States were not thought to be liable in damages, Edelman made clear that the 1871 measure does not override the Eleventh Amendment. I would give force to our prior Eleventh Amendment decisions by requiring explicit legislation on the point.