KIMEL v. FLORIDA BD. OF REGENTS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
98-791
Petitioner 
Kimel
Respondent 
Florida Bd. Of Regents
Consolidation 
No. 98-796
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for petitioners in No. 98-791 (Kimel, et al.), and respondents under the Court's Rule 12.6 in support of petitioner in No. 98-796)
(Argued for the United States, as petitioner in No. 98-796, and respondent in support of petitioners in No. 98-791)
(Argued the cause for state respondents in both cases)
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Facts of the Case 

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it unlawful for a private employer "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual...because of such individual's age." In 1974, Congress extended the ADEA's substantive requirements to the states. First, in 1994, employees of the University of Montevallo filed suit against the university, a branch of the State of Alabama, alleging that the university had discriminated against them on the basis of their age. The federal District Court dismissed the case based on the state's Eleventh Amendment immunity. The court determined that, although the ADEA shows Congress' intent to abrogate a state's Eleventh Amendment immunity, Congress did not enact or extend the ADEA under its Fourteenth Amendment enforcement powers. The court, therefore, held that the ADEA did not abrogate the state's Eleventh Amendment immunity. Second, in 1995, a group of faculty and librarians of Florida State University filed suit against the Board of Regents, alleging that the university's fiscal actions had violated the ADEA because the actions had a disparate impact on the pay of older employees. When the Florida Board of Regents moved to dismiss the suit on Eleventh Amendment grounds, the District Court denied the motion, holding that Congress expressed its intent to abrogate state Eleventh Amendment immunity in the ADEA, and that the ADEA is a proper exercise of congressional authority under the Fourteenth Amendment. Likewise, in 1996, a third case, involving an employee of the Florida Department of Corrections, was similarly decided. The Court of Appeals, in deciding all three cases, held that the ADEA does not abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity.

Question 

Does the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Florida Bd. Of Regents, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Age Discrimination in Employment (ADEA)

Split Vote

No. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Court held that the ADEA contains a clear statement of Congress' intent to abrogate the states' immunity, but that the abrogation exceeds Congress' authority under the Fourteenth Amendment. "States may discriminate on the basis of age without offending the Fourteenth Amendment if the age classification in question is rationally related to a legitimate state interest," wrote Justice O'Connor for the Court. Justice O'Connor noted that, "[o]ld age also does not define a discrete and insular minority because all persons, if they live out their normal life spans, will experience it." Justice O'Connor concluded that "[i]n contrast, when a State discriminates on the basis of race or gender, we require a tighter fit between the discriminatory means and the legitimate ends they serve." Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer dissented.

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KIMEL v. FLORIDA BD. OF REGENTS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 05 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_98_791/>.
KIMEL v. FLORIDA BD. OF REGENTS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_98_791/ (last visited April 5, 2014).
"KIMEL v. FLORIDA BD. OF REGENTS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 5, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_98_791/.