MR. JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The United States District Courts have jurisdiction over civil actions claiming a deprivation of rights secured by the Constitution of the United States or by Acts of Congress providing
In the Social Security Amendments of 1967, Congress authorized partial federal funding of approved state programs providing emergency assistance for certain needy persons.
Petitioner brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey alleging that the emergency payment was "necessary to avoid destitution" within the meaning of § 406 (e) (1) of the federal Social Security Act,
The District Court held that the complaint stated a claim under 42 U. S. C. § 1983.
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit did not address the merits because it concluded that the District Court should have dismissed the complaint for want of jurisdiction.
The petitioners in No. 77-719 are Commissioners of the Texas Department of Human Resources, which administers the State's program of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Respondents represent a class of AFDC recipients who share living quarters with a nondependent relative. Under the Texas regulations, the presence in the household of a nondependent person results in a reduction in the level of payments to the beneficiaries even if their level of actual need is unchanged. In a suit brought in the United
The District Court upheld the Texas regulations.
We granted certiorari to resolve the conflict between that conclusion and the holding of the Third Circuit in No. 77-5324. 434 U.S. 1061. We have previously reserved the jurisdictional question we decide today, see Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 533-534, n. 5. We preface our decision with a review of the history of the governing statutes.
Our decision turns on the construction of the two jurisdictional provisions, 28 U. S. C. §§ 1343 (3) and (4), and their
Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 is the source of both the jurisdictional grant now codified in 28 U. S. C. § 1343 (3) and the remedy now authorized by 42 U. S. C. § 1983.
In 1874, Congress enacted the Revised Statutes of the United States. At that time, the remedial and jurisdictional provisions of § 1 were modified and placed in separate sections. The words "and laws," as now found in § 1983, were included in the remedial provision of Rev. Stat. § 1979,
In the Judicial Code of 1911, Congress abolished circuit courts and transferred their authority to the district courts.
Subsection 4 of § 1343, providing jurisdiction for claims "under any Act of Congress providing for the protection of civil rights, including the right to vote," is of more recent origin. Part III of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, as proposed, authorized the Attorney General to institute suits for injunctive relief against conspiracies to deprive citizens of the civil rights specified in 42 U. S. C. § 1985, which includes voting rights.
With the exception of this most recent enactment, the legislative history of the provisions at issue in these cases ultimately provides us with little guidance as to the proper resolution of the question presented here. Section 1 of the 1871 Act was the least controversial provision of that Act;
Similar ambiguity is found in discussions of the basic policy of the legislation. While there is weight to the claim that Congress, from 1874 onward, intended to create a broad right of action in federal court for deprivations by a State of any federally secured right, it is also clear that the prime focus of Congress in all of the relevant legislation was ensuring a right of action to enforce the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment and the federal laws enacted pursuant thereto.
We cannot say that any of these arguments is ultimately
The statutory language suggests three different approaches to the jurisdictional issue. The first involves a consideration of the words "secured by the Constitution of the United States" as used in § 1343. The second focuses on the remedy authorized by § 1983 and raises the question whether that section is a statute that secures "equal rights" or "civil rights" within the meaning of § 1343. The third approach makes the jurisdictional issue turn on whether the Social Security Act is a statute that secures "equal rights" or "civil rights." We consider these approaches in turn.
1. The Supremacy Clause
Under § 1343 (3), Congress has created federal jurisdiction of any civil action authorized by law to redress the deprivation under color of state law "of any right, privilege or immunity secured  by the Constitution of the United States or  by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United
In Swift & Co. v. Wickham, 382 U.S. 111, the Court was confronted with an analogous choice between two interpretations of the statute defining the jurisdiction of three-judge district courts.
Just as the phrase in § 2281—"upon the ground of the
Thus, while we recognize that there is force to claimants' argument that the remedial purpose of the civil rights legislation supports an expansive interpretation of the phrase "secured by the Constitution," it would make little sense for Congress to have drafted the statute as it did if it had intended to confer jurisdiction over every conceivable federal claim against a state agent. In order to give meaning to the entire statute as written by Congress, we must conclude that an allegation of incompatibility between federal and state statutes and regulations does not, in itself, give rise to a claim "secured by the Constitution" within the meaning of § 1343 (3).
2. Section 1983
Claimants next argue that the "equal rights" language of § 1343 (3) should not be read literally or, if it is, that § 1983, the source of their asserted cause of action, should be considered an Act of Congress "providing for equal rights" within the meaning of § 1343 (3) or "providing for the protection of civil rights" within § 1343 (4). In support of this position, they point to the common origin of §§ 1983 and 1343 (3) in the Civil Rights Act of 1871 and this Court's recognition that the latter is the jurisdictional counterpart of the former.
In practical effect, this argument leads to the same result as claimants' Supremacy Clause argument: jurisdiction over all challenges to state action based on any federal ground. Although the legislative history does not forbid this result, the words and structure of the statute, as well as portions of the legislative history, support a more limited construction.
The common origin of §§ 1983 and 1343 (3) unquestionably implies that their coverage is, or at least originally was, coextensive. It is not, however, necessary in this case to decide whether the two provisions have the same scope. For even if they do, there would still be the question whether the "and laws" language in § 1983 should be narrowly read to conform with the "equal rights" language in § 1343 (3), or, conversely, the latter phrase should be broadly read to parallel the former. And, in all events, whether or not we assume that there is a difference between "any law of the United States" on the one hand and "any Act of Congress providing for equal rights" on the other, the fact is that the more limited language was used when Congress last amended the jurisdictional provision. In order to construe the broad language of § 1983 to cover any statutory claim, and at the same time to construe the language of § 1343 (3) as coextensive with such a cause of action, it would be necessary to ignore entirely Congress' most recent limiting amendment and the words of the provision as currently in force.
Under § 1343 (3), a civil action must be both "authorized by law" and brought to redress the deprivation of rights "secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights." Section 1983, when properly invoked, satisfies the first requirement: It ensures that the suit will not be dismissed because not "authorized by law." But it cannot satisfy the second, since by its terms, as well as its history, it does not provide any rights at all.
We reach a similar conclusion with respect to the argument that § 1983 is a statute "providing for the protection of civil rights, including the right to vote." Standing alone, § 1983 clearly provides no protection for civil rights since, as we have just concluded, § 1983 does not provide any substantive rights at all. To be sure, it may be argued that § 1983 does in some sense "provid[e] for the protection of civil rights" when it authorizes a cause of action based on the deprivation of civil rights guaranteed by other Acts of Congress. But in such cases, there is no question as to jurisdiction, and no need to invoke § 1983 to meet the "civil rights" requirement of § 1343 (4); the Act of Congress which is the actual substantive basis of the suit clearly suffices to meet the requisite test.
To construe § 1343 (4), moreover, as encompassing all federal statutory suits, as claimants here propose, would seem plainly inconsistent with the congressional intent in passing that statute. As noted earlier, the provision's primary purpose
3. The Social Security Act
It follows from what we have said thus far that § 1343 does not confer federal jurisdiction over the claims based on the Social Security Act unless that Act may fairly be characterized as a statute securing "equal rights" within § 1343 (3) or "civil rights" within § 1343 (4). The Social Security Act provisions at issue here authorize federal assistance to participating States in the provision of a wide range of monetary benefits to needy individuals, including emergency assistance and payments necessary to provide food and shelter. Arguably, a statute that is intended to provide at least a minimum level of subsistence for all individuals could be regarded as securing either "equal rights" or "civil rights."
The Social Security Act does not deal with the concept of "equality" or with the guarantee of "civil rights," as those terms are commonly understood. The Congress that enacted § 1343 (3) was primarily concerned with providing jurisdiction for cases dealing with racial equality; the Congress that enacted § 1343 (4) was primarily concerned with providing jurisdiction for actions dealing with the civil rights enumerated in 42 U. S. C. § 1985, and most notably the right to vote. While the words of these statutes are not limited to the precise claims which motivated their passage,
Our conclusion that the Social Security Act does not fall within the terms of either § 1343 (3) or (4) is supported by this Court's construction of similar phrases in the removal statute, 28 U. S. C. § 1443. The removal statute makes reference to "any law providing for the equal civil rights of citizens" and "any law providing for equal rights." In construing these phrases in Georgia v. Rachel, 384 U.S. 780, this Court concluded:
In accord with Georgia v. Rachel,
We therefore hold that the District Court did not have jurisdiction in either of these cases. Accordingly, the judgment in No. 77-5324 is affirmed, and the judgment in No. 77-719 is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE POWELL, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE and MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST join, concurring.
I join the Court's opinion
Section 1983 provides a private cause of action for the deprivation, under color of state law, of "rights . . . secured by the Constitution and laws."
In spite of these efforts, it may have been inevitable in an undertaking of such magnitude that changes in the language of some statutes arguably would alter their meaning. When confronted with such changes, we should remember the "familiar rule, that a thing may be within the letter of the statute and yet not within the statute, because not within its spirit, nor within the intention of its makers.'" Muniz v. Hoffman, 422 U.S. 454, 469 (1975) (quoting Holy Trinity Church v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 459 (1892)). I do not foreclose
I therefore am unable to accept uncritically the view that merely because the phrase "and laws" was inserted into the predecessor of § 1983 during the revision, that statute henceforth must be read as embracing all federal rights. The presence of this addition merely launches the inquiry into the legislative intent behind the present wording of § 1983.
The history of § 1983 begins with the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27. Section 1 of the Act guaranteed all citizens of the United States "the same right . . . to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property. . . as is enjoyed by white citizens." Section 2 made it a misdemeanor for any person, acting under color of state law, to deprive another of the rights enumerated in § 1. Jurisdiction over the criminal actions described in § 2, as well as over civil actions to enforce the rights granted in § 1, was provided by § 3, which stated in part:
The first three sections of the 1866 Act were the models for parts of two subsequent civil rights statutes. First, §§ 16 and 17 of the 1870 Civil Rights Act, 16 Stat. 144, were copied, with some changes, directly from §§ 1 and 2 of the 1866 Act,
The statutes discussed above were among the civil rights and related jurisdictional provisions in force when the task of producing the Revised Statutes was commenced. Of immediate concern, of course, is § 1 of the 1871 Act, which became § 1979 of the Revised Statutes and, finally, 42 U. S. C. § 1983. As that statute came to the revisers, it extended only to deprivations, under color of state law, of rights "secured by the Constitution." As it left their hands, this phrase had been
A primary source of information about the meaning of the Revised Statutes is a two-volume draft published by the revisers in 1872. Revision of the United States Statutes as Drafted by the Commissioners Appointed for that Purpose (1872) (hereinafter Draft). This Draft provides insight into the thinking of its authors in two ways: It contains marginal notations indicating the sources from which each section of the proposed text was derived, and it includes explanatory notes following some of the proposed provisions, discussing problems encountered by the revisers and justifying the use of particular word choices.
As it appears in the Draft (and in the final text), § 1979 creates a cause of action for the deprivation of "rights . . . secured by the Constitution and laws." The only indication in the Draft concerning the language of § 1979 is the marginal notation showing that it was derived from § 1 of the 1871 Civil Rights Act. Although the revisers gave no direct explanation for their insertion of the reference to "laws," their reasons for that change are revealed by a close examination of similar modification made in the jurisdictional counterparts to § 1979.
As part of their general scheme of organizing the federal statutes, the revisers consolidated all the jurisdictional provisions of the Statutes at Large in the "Judiciary" title of the revision. As noted above, § 3 of the 1866 Act had been relied
In spite of this identity of origin and purpose, these two jurisdictional provisions contained a difference in wording. Section 563 (12) provided district court jurisdiction over civil actions brought to redress the deprivation, under color of state law, of rights secured by the Constitution, or "of any right secured by any law of the United States." Section 629 (16), by contrast, contained, in place of the latter phrase, the words "of any right secured by any law providing for equal rights." Fortunately, in including a reference to laws in § 629 (16), the revisers provided what they omitted in their drafts of §§ 563 (12) and 1979: a detailed and lengthy note explaining their reasons for going beyond the language of the prior civil rights statutes. 1 Draft 359. This note not only makes explicit the meaning of the words "any law providing for equal rights," it discloses the correct interpretation of the analogous language in §§ 563 (12) and 1979 as well.
This passage reflects the revisers' understanding that Congress intended by its reference in § 1 of the 1871 Act to "rights . . . secured by the Constitution" to make unlawful the deprivation
It appears that two jurisdictional provisions were created simply because the revisers elected to write separate chapters for the district and circuit courts.
In light of these considerations, the difference in the wording of §§ 563 (12) and 629 (16) must be ascribed to oversight,
The fact that the revisers understood the words "any law" in § 563 (12) to refer only to the equal rights laws enacted by Congress necessarily illuminates the meaning of the similar, contemporaneously drafted reference in § 1979. The legislative
The explanatory note accompanying § 629 (16) makes perfectly clear that the revisers attributed to Congress the understanding that the particularly described rights of §§ 1977 and 1978 were protected against deprivation under color of state law by the words "rights . . . secured by the Constitution" in § 1979. Out of an abundance of caution, however, a
The underlying historical question, of course, is not simply what the revisers intended, but what Congress meant by the language of § 1979 as it finally was enacted. In light of Congress' clearly expressed purpose not to alter the meaning of prior law, see Part I, supra, it cannot be argued, absent some indication to the contrary, that Congress intended "and laws" to mean anything other than what was understood by the revisers, as shown above.
Nor was Congress merely silent on this issue. The bill to enact the revision into positive law received considerable attention in the House, where two special night sessions were convened each week for as long as necessary to allow all Members wishing to scrutinize the bill to do so until the
The legislative history of §§ 1979, 629 (16), and 563 (12) notwithstanding, the opinion concurring in the judgment argues that the words "and laws" in § 1983 should be read broadly because the Court has given such a construction to similar language appearing in 18 U. S. C. §§ 241 and 242. This assertion is undermined, however, by the history of the statutes in question.
Section 242 originated in § 2 of the 1866 Act. As noted supra, at 627, § 2 made it a misdemeanor to deprive, under color of state law, any citizen of the rights specified in § 1 of that Act. Section 2 was repeated, with some modification, as § 17 of the 1870 Act. Section 17 made criminal the deprivation, under color of state law, of the rights enumerated in § 16.
Sections 6 and 17 of the 1870 Act were included in the revision as §§ 5508 and 5510, respectively, and MR. JUSTICE WHITE relies on the fact that both emerged with language that, on its face, covered all rights secured by federal statutory law. While he may well be correct that the words "Constitution or laws" in § 5508 should be taken at face value, the evidence does not support the same conclusion with respect to § 5510.
In the 1872 Draft of the revision, § 5510 was written to provide for criminal sanctions against deprivations, under color of state law, "of any right secured or protected by section — of the Title CIVIL RIGHTS." 2 Draft 2627. Although no explanatory note accompanies this section, it is evident from the face of the text that the revisers were attempting to preserve the limited scope of § 17 of the 1870 Act by restricting its coverage to specifically enumerated rights. In the final version of the revision, the language had been changed, apparently
In light of the historical explanation of the meaning of "Constitution and laws" in § 1979, it is not surprising that this term should have been substituted for the language used in the draft of § 5510. As we have seen, in other contexts the appendage of "and laws" to "rights . . . secured by the Constitution" simply referred to the rights protected by the legislation enacted to provide for equal rights, as authorized by the recently adopted Amendments to the Constitution. Indeed, the House debates make explicit the fact that the change from the revisers' draft of § 5510 to the text ultimately adopted was made simply to be certain that this criminal provision would encompass the rights covered by the existing civil rights statutes discussed at length in this opinion: § 1 of the 1866 Act, § 16 of the 1870 Act, and § 1 of the 1871 Act. See 2 Cong. Rec. 827-828 (1874) (remarks of Rep. Lawrence). There is no evidence that Congress intended § 5510 to cover all federal statutory law.
Despite the apparent similarity of the language of 18 U. S. C. §§ 241 and 242, therefore, they are in fact very different in scope. There is solid historical justification for the view that § 241 "dealt with Federal rights and with all Federal rights, and protected them in the lump," United States v. Mosley, 238 U.S. 383, 387 (1915) (interpreting Rev. Stat. § 5508, currently 18 U. S. C. § 241), because the expansive
MR. JUSTICE WHITE states that he is "not disposed to repudiate" the dicta in some of our prior decisions. See post, at 658. It is, of course, true that several decisions contain statements premised upon the assumption that § 1983 covers a broad range of federal statutory claims. E. g., Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 675 (1974); Greenwood v. Peacock, 384 U.S. 808, 829-830 (1966). But that assumption has been made uncritically. Until these cases, no prior opinion of the Court or of a Justice thereof has undertaken a close examination of the pertinent legislative history of § 1983, including the work of the commissioners who drafted the Revised Statutes of 1874. Thus, there is nothing in the cases cited by
In Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), decided just last Term, the Court was willing to go beyond confessing error in previous dicta. Indeed, the Court squarely overruled the holding in Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1961), that municipalities are not "persons" for purposes of § 1983, despite almost two decades of lower courts' reliance upon Monroe, and notwithstanding our exceptional reluctance to overrule our prior constructions of federal statutes. In a case such as this, where no square holdings have perpetuated our misapprehension of the meaning of § 1983, we should be the more willing to correct historical error.
In addition to the historical evidence of the intent of Congress and the revisers in enacting § 1983, there are weighty policy and pragmatic arguments in favor of the construction advanced by this opinion. It is by no means unusual for Congress to implement federal social programs in close cooperation with the States. The Social Security Act, which these cases allege was violated, is a good example of this pattern of cooperative federalism. If § 1983 provides a private cause of action for the infringement, under color of state law, of any federal right, then virtually every such program, together with the state officials who administer it, becomes subject to judicial oversight at the behest of a single citizen, even if such a dramatic expansion of federal-court jurisdiction never would have been countenanced when these programs were adopted. To be sure, Congress could amend or repeal § 1983, or, as MR. JUSTICE WHITE concedes, post, at 672, limit its application in particular cases. As we said in Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, supra, at 695, however, we should not "`place on the shoulders of Congress the burden of the Court's own error'" (quoting Girouard v. United States, 328 U.S. 61, 70 (1946)). That problem is avoided if § 1983 is read, as it
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, concurring in the judgment.
In order for there to be federal district court jurisdiction under 28 U. S. C. § 1343 (3), two requirements must be met. First, the suit must be "authorized by law," and, second, the suit must seek redress of a deprivation under color of state law of any right "secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights . . . ."
Certainly the issue of the reach of the § 1983 cause of action has been properly preserved for review in this Court.
I would and do reject this possibility. The provisions are not of equal scope: Although the suits in these cases are authorized by § 1983, they are not within the jurisdiction of the federal courts under § 1343 (3). The legislative history supports this view when approached with readiness to believe that Congress meant what the plain words it used say, as we have been taught is the proper approach to civil rights legislation originating in the post-Civil War days. See Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409, 436-437 (1968); United States v. Price, 383 U.S. 787 (1966); United States v. Guest 383 U.S. 745 (1966). The conclusion that § 1983 provides a remedy for deprivations under color of state law for federal statutory as well as constitutional rights not only reflects a straightforward and natural reading of its language, but also is supported by our cases that have assumed or indicated in dicta that this is the correct construction of the provision, as well as by our decisions giving the same construction to the post-Civil War statutes criminalizing invasions of federal rights in language almost identical to that found in § 1983. On the other hand, the conclusion that § 1343 (3) encompasses only rights granted under "equal rights" statutes, in addition to constitutional rights, is compelled because of the equally plain terms of that statute and the absence of any overriding indication in the
The first post-Civil War legislation relevant to ascertaining the meaning of §§ 1983 and 1343 (3) is the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27. Section 1 of that Act secured to all persons, with respect to specified rights, such as the right to contract, "the same right . . . as is enjoyed by white citizens." Under § 2 of the 1866 Act, deprivation of these rights under color of state law was a misdemeanor.
Because of uncertainty as to its authority under the Thirteenth Amendment to enact the foregoing provisions, Congress in §§ 16 and 17 of the Enforcement Act of 1870, 16 Stat. 144, substantially re-enacted §§ 1 and 2 of the 1866 Act pursuant to § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which had been ratified in the interim. Although § 8 of the 1870 Act provided for concurrent district and circuit court jurisdiction "of all causes, civil and criminal, arising under this act, except as herein otherwise provided," § 18 re-enacted the 1866 Act by reference and provided that §§ 16 and 17 would be enforced according to the provisions of the 1866 Act. Further, § 6 of the 1870 Act made it a crime to conspire to deny any person "any right or privilege granted or secured . . . by the Constitution or laws of the United States." In contrast to § 17 (re-enacting § 2 of the 1866 Act), which criminalized only color-of-law deprivations of the specified rights of equality guaranteed by § 16, § 6 reached "all of the rights and privileges" secured by "all of the Constitution and all of the laws of the United States." United States v. Price, supra, at 800 (emphasis in original).
Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, following the lead of the 1866 and 1870 Acts in opening the federal courts to remedy deprivations of federal rights, created a new civil remedy neither repetitive of nor entirely analogous to any of the provisions in the earlier Civil Rights Acts. Section 1 of the 1871 Act, like § 17 of the 1870 Act, provided redress only for deprivations of rights under color of state law. But whereas § 17 applied only where there was deprivation of the rights of equality secured or protected by § 16 (re-enacting § 1
With respect to the remedial power of the federal courts, however, the 1874 revision effected substantial changes
Second, the civil remedy directed solely at deprivations under color of law was likewise expanded to encompass all statutory as well as constitutional rights. Thus, whereas § 1 of the 1871 Act had provided for redress of color-of-law deprivations of rights "secured by the Constitution of the United States," § 1979 of the Revised Statutes provided a civil remedy for such deprivation of rights secured by the "Constitution and laws," the substantive federal rights protected thus mirroring those covered by §§ 5508 and 5510.
Third, the jurisdictional provisions of the various Civil Rights Acts were split off and consolidated in the Revised Statutes. Section 3 of the 1866 Act (re-enacted under § 18 of the 1870 Act), which provided federal jurisdiction for "all causes . . . affecting persons . . . denied" the rights now
With respect to the circuit courts, however, Rev. Stat. § 629 (16) provided jurisdiction over deprivation under color of state law of federal constitutional rights—without regard to the amount in controversy—but stopped short of encompassing suits involving violations of statutory rights, referring only to any right "secured by the Constitution of the United States, or . . . by any law providing for equal rights . . . ."
Thus, under the Revised Statutes of 1874 the federal circuit
With the adoption of the 1911 Judicial Code, the circuit courts were abolished, and the district courts became the sole federal courts of first instance. The principal elements of the district court's jurisdiction included diversity cases involving in excess of $3,000,
The language of Rev. Stat. § 1979 (now codified at 42 U. S. C. § 1983) remained unchanged, providing a federal
Having examined the context in which the foregoing statutory developments occurred, I agree with the Court that there is nothing in the relevant provisions or in their history that should lead us to conclude that Congress did not mean what it said in defining the jurisdiction of the circuit and district courts in 1874 or, much less, that in adopting the Judicial Code in 1911, Congress meant the language "any law of the United States providing for equal rights" to mean "any law of the United States."
By the same token, I also conclude that nothing in the history and evolution of § 1983 leads to the conclusion that Congress did not mean what it said in 1874 in describing the rights protected as including those secured by federal "laws" as well as by the "Constitution." I am, therefore, not disposed to repudiate the view repeatedly stated in previous cases that § 1983 encompasses federal statutory as well as constitutional entitlements. Although the Court has not previously given extended consideration to the scope of the rights protected by § 1983,
Until today, we have expressly declined, most recently in Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 533-535, n. 5 (1974),
And in Greenwood v. Peacock, 384 U.S. 808, 829-830 (1966), the Court noted that "[u]nder 42 U. S. C. § 1983 (1964 ed.) the [state] officers may be made to respond in damages not only for violations of rights covered by federal equal civil rights laws, but for violations of other federal constitutional and statutory rights as well." Other dicta recognizing that § 1983 encompasses statutory federal rights are found in Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 700-701 (1978);
Under the holding in Hagans, supra, at 536, that a federal court has power to hear a pendent claim based on the Social
Likewise, our previous cases construing Rev. Stat. § 5508 (now 18 U. S. C. § 241) and Rev. Stat. § 5510 (now 18 U. S. C. § 242)—each of which describes the rights protected in language nearly identical to that used in § 1983
One of the first cases
As noted, §§ 242 and 1983 were both derived from post-Civil War legislation providing redress for invasions of rights under color of state law. In the Revised Statutes of 1874, § 242 was expanded to encompass all constitutional rights, and both provisions were expanded to encompass rights secured by federal "laws." The color-of-law requirement in each is the same.
It is earnestly argued, however, that 42 U. S. C. § 1983, formerly Rev. Stat. § 1979, and 18 U. S. C. § 242, formerly Rev. Stat. § 5510, should be read as protecting against deprivation under color of state law only constitutional rights and rights granted under federal "equal rights" statutes. A corollary of this argument is that, although in 1874 Congress expressly invested the district courts with jurisdiction over all civil cases involving state interference with any right secured by the Constitution or by any federal law, see Rev. Stat. § 563 (12), Congress actually meant to refer, in addition to the Constitution, only to equal rights laws.
To the extent that these arguments are rooted in the notion that the 1866 Civil Rights Act provided the outer limits of the federal civil rights effort in the post-Civil War years, and thus implicitly limits the reach and scope of the relevant portions of the 1870 and 1871 Acts, they are quite unpersuasive. The 1870 Act, it is true, re-enacted the 1866 Act, but it also provided its own unique approaches, such as that adopted in § 6, proscribing private or public conspiracies interfering not merely with the specific rights of equality cataloged in § 1 of the 1866 Act, but with any right secured by federal constitutional or statutory law. Similarly, it cannot be supposed that in § 1 of the 1871 Act, Congress was merely granting a private cause of action for vindicating rights of equality with respect to enumerated activities within state legislative power, secured by § 1 of the 1866 Act, re-enacted as § 16 of the 1870 Act. The 1871 provision granted a remedy and jurisdiction in the federal courts to protect against state invasions of any and all constitutional rights; and whereas
The more specific basis for the argument that the scope of § 1983 should be narrowed to less than its plain terms relates to the grant of civil rights jurisdiction to the circuit courts in the Revised Statutes. It is asserted that just as Congress limited the jurisdiction of those courts to suits involving constitutional rights or statutory rights secured in "equal rights" statutes, it intended likewise to confine the jurisdiction of the district courts under § 563 (12), the remedy provided by § 1979, and the criminal proscriptions in § 5510. However, the marginal notes and cross-references in the Revised Statutes for each of these provisions are as broad as the plain terms of the statutes themselves,
Nor do I find as unambiguous and as persuasive as does my Brother POWELL the commentary of the revisers published in 1872 in connection with the anticipated definition of the circuit court's jurisdiction. 1 Revision of the United States Statutes as Drafted by the Commissioners Appointed for that Purpose 359-363 (1872) (hereinafter Draft). The revisers went to some length to explain their deletion of the jurisdictional language used in § 3 of the 1866 Act (re-enacted by reference
However, the revisers drafting the circuit court provision were not working from the new, and expanded, cause of action provided in § 1979, but from § 1 of the 1871 Act, which, they pointed out, referred to deprivation of rights "secured by the Constitution of the United States." 1 Draft 362 (emphasis in original). If this language were transferred verbatim to the new circuit court jurisdictional provision, "it might perhaps be held that only such rights as are specifically secured by the Constitution, and not every right secured by a law authorized by the Constitution, were here intended . . . ." Ibid. Thus, the revisers thought it advisable—"deemed safer"—to include "a reference to the civil-rights act." My Brother POWELL is able to conclude from the foregoing
Beyond the most obvious and overriding difficulty with this approach to statutory construction—whereby the plain terms of three statutes are ignored on the basis of the revisers' commentary to a fourth and apparently inconsistent provision —there are several more technical problems with my Brother POWELL'S approach. First, the reference ultimately included in the circuit court provision was not to § 16 of the 1870 Act, but to "any law providing for equal rights . . . ," a far broader reference than necessary to achieve what those writing the commentary apparently intended to achieve.
Second, if the revisers' comment is to be taken at face value, they must be held to have assumed that "every right secured by a law authorized by the Constitution" was secured by an "equal rights" statute, or even more incredibly, by § 16 of the 1870 Act. But surely my Brother POWELL cannot be suggesting that the Constitution is so limited, and such a narrow view of the constitutional rights protected by § 1983 has been firmly rejected by this Court.
Fourth, if, as does indeed appear from the comment relied upon, it was the revisers' objective at least to provide jurisdiction for all suits alleging deprivation of the specific rights guaranteed in the 1866 and 1870 Acts, they failed in that attempt. Whereas § 3 of the 1866 Act had provided jurisdiction for suits alleging private, as well as color-of-law, deprivation of the rights enumerated, both § 629 (16) and § 563 (12), like § 1979, were limited to deprivations under color of state law.
Almost immediately, however, the circuit courts were given general federal-question jurisdiction, and in "codifying, revising, and amending" the laws relating to the judiciary in 1911,
The foregoing examination of the evolution of §§ 1983 and 1343 (3) demonstrates to my satisfaction that the two provisions cannot be read as though they were but one statute.
Perhaps it could be said that the very process of judicial redress for deprivation of rights "secures" such rights and
MR. JUSTICE STEWART, with whom MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL join,
My disagreement with the opinion and judgment of the Court in these cases is narrow but dispositive. Because 28 U. S. C. § 1343 (3) refers to "any Act of Congress providing for equal rights," because 42 U. S. C. § 1983 is such an Act of Congress, and because § 1983 by its terms clearly covers lawsuits such as the ones here involved, I would hold that the plaintiffs properly brought these cases in Federal District Court.
Even if this impressive weight of authority did not exist, however, and the question before us were one of first impression, it seems clear to me that the plain language of § 1983 would dictate the same result. For that statute confers a cause of action for the deprivation under color of state law of "any rights . . . secured by the Constitution and laws." Only if the legislative history showed unambiguously that those words cannot mean what they say would it be possible to conclude that there were no federal causes of action in the present cases. But, as the Court correctly states, "the legislative history of the provisions at issue in these cases ultimately provides us with little guidance as to the proper resolution of the question presented here." Ante, at 610.
The Court's reading of §§ 1983 and 1343 (3) results in the conclusion that Congress intended § 1983 to create some causes of action which could not be heard in a federal court under § 1343 (3), even though §§ 1983 and 1343 (3) both originated in the same statute (§ 1 of the so-called Ku Klux Klan Act). This anomaly is quite contrary to the Court's understanding up to now that "the common origin of §§ 1983 and 1343 (3) in § 1 of the 1871 Act suggests that the two provisions were meant to be, and are, complementary." Examining Board v. Flores de Otero, 426 U.S. 572, 583. See Lynch v. Household Finance Corp., 405 U.S. 538, 542-552.
Section 1983 is a statute "providing for equal rights." The Revised Statutes of 1874 included § 1979, the predecessor of § 1983, in Title XXIV, entitled "Civil Rights." Several sections in the Title, including § 1979, were cross-referenced to the predecessors of § 1343 (3), Rev. Stat. §§ 563 (12) and 629 (16). In the context of the Revised Statutes, the term "providing
The Court's reasoning to the contrary seems to rely solely on the fact that § 1983 does not create any rights. Section 1343 (3) does not require, however, that the Act create rights. Nor does it require that the Act "provide" them. It refers to any Act of Congress that provides "for" equal rights. Section 1983 provides for rights when it creates a cause of action for deprivation of those rights under color of state law. It is, therefore, one of the statutes for which § 1343 (3), by its terms, confers jurisdiction upon the federal district courts.
Today's decision may not have a great effect on the scope of federal jurisdiction. If the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000, any plaintiff raising a federal question may bring an action in federal court under 28 U. S. C. § 1331 (a). Many other sections of Title 28 confer jurisdiction upon the federal courts over statutory questions without any requirement that a monetary minimum be in controversy. See, e. g., 28 U. S. C. § 1333 (admiralty and maritime jurisdiction); 28 U. S. C. § 1334 (bankruptcy); 28 U. S. C. § 1337 (Acts of Congress regulating commerce). Still other plaintiffs will find their way into the federal courts through jurisdictional provisions codified with the substantive law, and not incorporated in Title 28. See, e. g., 12 U. S. C. § 2614 (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974); 15 U. S. C. § 1640 (e) (Truth in Lending Act); 42 U. S. C. § 7604 (1976 ed., Supp. I) (Clean Air Act). Finally, even a welfare recipient with a federal statutory claim may sue in a federal court if his lawyer can link this claim to a substantial constitutional contention. And under the standard of substantiality established by Hagans v. Lavine, supra, such a constitutional claim would not be hard to construct.
But to sacrifice even one lawsuit to the Court's cramped reading of 28 U. S. C. § 1343 (3) is to deprive a plaintiff of a
I respectfully dissent.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL believe that the issue discussed in footnote 2 of this dissenting opinion need not be addressed in this case. They therefore express no view of the merits of that particular question.
Ronald Y. Amemiya, Attorney General, and Michael A. Lilly and Charleen M. Aina, Deputy Attorneys General, filed a brief for the State of Hawaii as amicus curiae in No. 77-719.
"(3) To redress the deprivation, under color of any State law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States;
"(4) To recover damages or to secure equitable or other relief under any Act of Congress providing for the protection of civil rights, including the right to vote." 28 U. S. C. §§ 1343 (3) and (4).
Jurisdiction under § 1343 (4), it should be noted, is not limited to actions against state officials or individuals acting under color of state law.
"The term `emergency assistance to needy families with children' means any of the following, furnished for a period not in excess of 30 days in any 12-month period, in the case of a needy child under the age of 21 who is (or, within such period as may be specified by the Secretary, has been) living with any of the relatives specified in subsection (a) (1) of this section in a place of residence maintained by one or more of such relatives as his or their own home, but only where such child is without available resources, the payments, care, or services involved are necessary to avoid destitution of such child or to provide living arrangements in a home for such child, and such destitution or need for living arrangements did not arise because such child or relative refused without good cause to accept employment or training for employment—
"(A) money payments, payments in kind, or such other payments as the State agency may specify with respect to, or medical care or any other type of remedial care recognized under State law on behalf of, such child or any other member of the household in which he is living, and
"(B) such services as may be specified by the Secretary; "but only with respect to a State whose State plan approved under section 602 of this title includes provision for such assistance."
Section 1983 provides:
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress."
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
"The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions wherein the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, except that no such sum or value shall be required in any such action brought against the United States, any agency thereof, or any officer or employee thereof in his official capacity."
"That any person who, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of any State, shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any person within the jurisdiction of the United States to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution of the United States, shall, any such law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of the State to the contrary notwithstanding, be liable to the party injured in any action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress; such proceeding to be prosecuted in the several district or circuit courts of the United States, with and subject to the same rights of appeal, review upon error, and other remedies provided in like cases in such courts, under the provisions of the act of the ninth of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-six, entitled `An Act to protect all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and to furnish the means of their vindication'; and the other remedial laws of the United States which are in their nature applicable in such cases." 17 Stat. 13.
"An interlocutory or permanent injunction restraining the enforcement, operation or execution of any State statute by restraining the action of any officer of such State in the enforcement or execution of such statute or of an order made by an administrative board or commission acting under State statutes, shall not be granted by any district court or judge thereof upon the ground of the unconstitutionality of such statute unless the application therefore is heard and determined by a district court of three judges under section 2284 of this title." (Emphasis added.)
"Section 1985 of title 42, United States Code, often referred to as the Ku Klux Act, provides a civil remedy in damages to a person damaged as a result of conspiracies to deprive one of certain civil rights. The law presently is comprised of three subsections; the first establishes liability for damages against any person who conspires to interfere with an officer of the United States in the discharge of his duties and as a result thereof injures or deprives another of rights or privileges of a citizen of the United States; the second subsection establishes liability for damages against any person who conspires to intimidate or injure parties, witnesses, or jurors involved in any court matter or who conspires to obstruct the due process of justice in any State court made with the intent to deny to any citizen the equal protection of the laws as the result of the conspiracies for injury or deprivation of another's rights or privileges as a citizen of the United States; the third subsection establishes liability for damages against any person who conspires to deprive another of equal protections of the laws or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws, or of the right to vote in elections affecting Federal offices if the result is to injure or deprive another of rights and privileges of a citizen of the United States.
"The effect of the provisions of the proposed bill on existing law as contained in title 42, United States Code, section 1985 is not to expand the rights presently protected but merely to provide the Attorney General with the right to bring a civil action or other proper proceeding for relief to prevent acts or practices which would give rise to a cause of action under the three existing subsections."
"My intent in proposing the idea of leaving in the bill section 122, renumbered as section 121, was to strengthen the so-called right to vote. The section would amend existing law so as to clarify the jurisdiction of the district courts in the entertainment of suits to recover damages, or to secure equitable or other relief under any act of Congress providing for the protection of civil rights, including the right to vote. . . .
"[T]he addition of a subparagraph 4 in section 1343 is not limited by the clause `under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or order of any State or Territory,' to which the preceding paragraph is subject.
"So in that sense the new subparagraph 4, which would be left in Part III, is complementary to, and is perhaps somewhat broader than existing law. So it does not limit the suit to recover damages to a case in which the injury occurs under color of law."
"I desire to premise here that [the House Committee on Revision of the Laws] felt it their bounded duty not to allow, so far as they could ascertain, any change of the law. This embodies the law as it is. The temptation, of course, was very great, where a law seemed to be imperfect, to perfect it by the alteration of words or phrases, or to make some change. But that temptation has, so far as I know and believe, been resisted. We have not attempted to change the law, in a single word or letter, so as to make a different reading or different sense. All that has been done is to strike out the obsolete parts and to condense and consolidate and bring together statutes in pari materia; so that you have here, except in so far as it is human to err, the laws of the United States under which we now live." 2 Cong. Rec. 129 (1873) (remarks of Rep. Butler,introducing H. R. 1215).
"[T]he committee have endeavored to have this revision a perfect reflex of the existing national statutes. We felt aware that if anything was introduced by way of change into those statutes it would be impossible that the thing should ever be carried through the House. In the multitude of matters that come before Congress for consideration,if we undertake to perfect and amend the whole body of the national statutes there is an end of any expectation that the thing would ever be carried through either House of Congress, and therefore the committee have endeavored to eliminate from this everything that savors of change in the slightest degree of the existing statutes." Ibid. (remarks of Rep. Poland).
Recognizing this, the revisers in their note first justify the language in § 629 (16) extending jurisdiction only over suits brought to "redress the deprivation" of certain rights. Section 3 of the 1866 Act had referred to actions "affecting persons" who had been denied certain rights. The revisers reasoned that Congress could not have meant the latter phrase literally, as this would have created concurrent circuit and district court jurisdiction over any action whatsoever—"for the recovery of lands, or on promissory notes, . . . or for the infringement of patent or copyrights," 1 Draft 361—by anyone who coincidentally had been denied his civil rights. The revisers therefore concluded that Congress meant to provide jurisdiction only over suits to redress the deprivation of civil rights.
The revisers sought support for this conclusion from the wording of § 1 of the 1871 Act which, although it had incorporated by reference the "affecting persons who are denied" jurisdictional language of § 3 of the 1866 Act, provided for civil liability against anyone who subjected another to the "deprivation" of rights secured by the Constitution. Accordingly, the revisers inferred Congress' wish that victims of civil rights violations should have access to the federal courts only to redress those violations, not to pursue all other kinds of litigation. It was at this point in their argument that the revisers made the statement quoted and discussed in the text below.
The revisers did not believe that § 1 of the 1866 Act had been made entirely obsolete by § 16 of the 1870 Act, however, for § 1978 in the Draft consists of an enumeration of the § 1 rights not repeated in § 16: those dealing with the right to hold, purchase, and convey property. Accurately reflecting the text of § 1, these rights are extended only to "citizens of the United States." See n. 6, supra. The marginal note identifies § 1 as the source of § 1978.
Whatever their reasons for referring only to § 16 of the 1870 Act as an illustration of the rights § 1979 was thought to protect against infringement by those acting under color of state law, it is evident from the context of their discussion that the revisers were concerned generally with civil rights legislation enumerating particular rights as authorized by the recently adopted Fourteenth Amendment, and perhaps by the Thirteenth and Fifteenth as well.
The revisers' reference to "every right secured by a law authorized by the Constitution" does not in any way indicate their belief that § 629 (16), by its reference to "any law providing for equal rights," would extend the courts' jurisdiction to every suit involving statutory rights of every kind. On the contrary, the revisers' note merely reflects their concern that, in general, courts would not interpret "rights secured by the Constitution" to extend to any federal statutory right. If this were the case, then even those rights originally created in the Civil Rights Acts—rights which had been understood by Congress, when drafting § 1 of the 1871 Act, to be "constitutional rights" because of their unique relationship with § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment—would not have been within the scope of §§ 1979, 629 (16), and 563 (12), absent the added reference to statutory law.
In his separate opinion, MR. JUSTICE WHITE states that the Revised Statutes in other instances "provided different circuit and district court jurisdiction for causes which, prior to the revision, could be heard in either court." Post, at 669 n. 46. Whether or not the differences between district and circuit court jurisdiction to which he adverts were intended by the revisers, the issue here is what the evidence reveals regarding this particular difference between §§ 563 (12) and 629 (16). As I have shown, the history indicates that these two statutes were intended to be identical in scope.
For example, nothing in the legislative history of § 1983 or § 1343 (3), or in my analysis, implies that the 1866 Act "provided the outer limits of the federal civil rights effort in the post-Civil War years." Post, at 663. Indeed, provisions of both the 1870 and 1871 Acts go well beyond the 1866 law. Nor are the four "technical problems," see post, at 667-668, suggested by MR. JUSTICE WHITE apposite: (i) The revisers' statement that the rights secured by § 16 of the 1870 Act were to be protected against adverse state action by § 1979 does not require the conclusion that § 16 was the exclusive source of such rights. See n. 13, supra. (ii) Nor does it follow from the revisers' prediction that the courts would not construe rights "secured by the Constitution" to include rights "secured by a law authorized by the Constitution" that they thought that every federal statute would be encompassed by the phrase "any law providing for equal rights." To the contrary, they recognized that the unique relationship between the Constitution and the recently enacted civil rights statutes made it quite proper to refer to the latter as constitutional rights. See supra, at 632-633, and n. 14. (iii) The language in §§ 563 (12) and 1979 could indeed have been chosen more carefully. See supra, at 637. But the variations between these statutes are explained by the manner in which the revision was undertaken, see n. 15, supra, and do not preclude discovery of their precise meaning. (iv) If the revisers erred in limiting the jurisdictional provisions in the revision derived from § 3 of the 1866 Act to actions brought under color of state law, that error is quite independent of and does not detract from their statement explaining the reference in § 629 (16) to equal rights laws. As I have shown, this reflects the correct interpretation of "and laws" in § 1983.
To be sure, no reading of history, including my understanding of the legislative history of § 1983, is beyond criticism. But any difficulties identified by MR. JUSTICE WHITE are inconsequential when compared with his disregard for Congress' unequivocal wish not to alter the content of federal statutory law. See Part I, supra. The arguments advanced in this opinion take full account of that legislative intent, while MR. JUSTICE WHITE's opinion largely assumes the very fact to be proved: that § 1983 "was . . . expanded [in the revision] to encompass all statutory . . . rights." Post, at 654. The direct evidence of Congress' intent with respect to the alterations made in the language of § 1983 flies directly in the face of this assumption. See supra, at 638-639, and n. 23.
While none of us is invariably consistent, MR. JUSTICE WHITE has not always disparaged the history of the post-Civil War civil rights legislation. In prior cases he has insisted that the 19th-century Civil Rights Acts should be read narrowly when such a construction is required by their legislative history. See Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U.S. 160, 192 (1976) (WHITE, J., dissenting); Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409, 449 (1968) (Harlan, J., joined by WHITE, J., dissenting).
"The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action authorized by law to be commenced by any person:
"(3) To redress the deprivation, under color of any State law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States."
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom,or usage, of any State or Territory, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress."
"[A]ny person who, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of any State, shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any person within the jurisdiction of the United States to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution of the United States, shall, any such law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of the State to the contrary notwithstanding, be liable to the party injured in any action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress; such proceeding to be prosecuted in the several district or circuit courts of the United States, with and subject to the same rights of appeal, review upon error, and other remedies provided in like cases in such courts, under the provisions of the act of the ninth of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-six, entitled 'An act to protect all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and to furnish the means of their vindication'; and the other remedial laws of the United States which are in their nature applicable in such cases." 17 Stat. 13.
In 1978, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would remove the amount-in-controversy requirement in all federal-question suits under § 1331. H. R. 9622, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. (1978).
"[A]ny person who, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any inhabitant of any State or Territory to the deprivation of any right secured or protected by this act, or to different punishment, pains, or penalties on account of such person having at any time been held in a condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, or by reason of his color or race, than is proscribed for the punishment of white persons, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction, shall be punished by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, in the discretion of the court." 14 Stat. 27.
"[Section 1] not only provides a civil remedy for persons whose former condition may have been that of slaves, but also to all people where, under color of State law, they or any of them may be deprived of rights to which they are entitled under the Constitution by reason and virtue of their national citizenship." Ibid.
See also id., at App. 216-217 (Sen. Thurman):
"This section relates wholly to civil suits. . . . Its whole effect is to give to the Federal Judiciary that which does not now belong to it . . . . It authorizes any person who is deprived of any right, privilege, or immunity secured to him by the Constitution of the United States, to bring an action against the wrong-doer in the Federal courts, and that without any limit whatsoever as to the amount in controversy."
"An act to determine the jurisdiction of the circuit courts of the United States and to regulate the removal of causes from State courts, and for other purposes." Id., at 4979-4988.
In conference, the House agreed to the Senate's changes in the original legislation. See also F. Frankfurter & J. Landis, The Business of the Supreme Court 65-68, and n. 34 (1928).
The marginal notation for § 1979 states: "Civil action for deprivation of rights." Section 1 of the 1871 Act is cross-cited, and there is a bracketed citation to § 563 and § 629. Rev. Stat. 348 (1874).
The marginal notation for § 5510 states: "Depriving citizens of civil rights under color of State laws." The cross-cite is to § 17 of the 1870 Act, and there is a bracketed citation to § 1979. Rev. Stat. 1074 (1874).
"It may have been the intention of Congress to provide, by [§ 1 of the 1871 Act], for all the cases of deprivations mentioned in the previous act of 1870, and thus actually to supersede the indefinite provision contained in that act. But as it might perhaps be held that only such rights as are specifically secured by the Constitution, and not every right secured by a law authorized by the Constitution, were here intended, it is deemed safer to add a reference to the civil-rights act." 1 Draft 362.
Unless he is also prepared to limit the reach of constitutional claims brought under § 1983, my Brother POWELL's construction of that statute would not allow claims based on federal statutory law to be heard unless they involved a right of equality, but claims based on the Constitution could involve alleged violations of not only the Equal Protection Clause, or even other provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, but also any provision of the Constitution. It is hard to believe that Congress intended such asymmetry.
Clearly, §§ 1979 and 1980 were statutes "authorizing" suits. In addition, it is evident that the revisers considered § 1 of the 1866 Act (and § 16 of the 1870 Act) directly to authorize suits redressing the deprivation of rights guaranteed thereunder, for the bracketed citations after the jurisdictional provisions, §§ 563 (12) and 629 (16), are to § 1977 as well as to § 1979, see n. 39, supra. This further supports the proposition that § 1 of the 1871 Act did not merely authorize civil suits to enforce the guarantees of the earlier Civil Rights Acts, see supra, at 663-664.
Although the Court rejected the dissent's primary-jurisdiction argument for cases brought under the Social Security Act, a similar doctrine may restrict § 1983 suits brought for violations of other federal statutes. When a state official is alleged to have violated of other federal statute which provides its own comprehensive enforcement scheme, the requirements of that enforcement procedure may not be bypassed by bringing suit directly under § 1983. For example, a suit alleging that a State has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must comply with the procedural requirements of that Act, even though such a suit falls within the language of § 1983.