Comcast Corp. v. National Assn. of African Am.-Owned Media

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: June 10, 2019
  • Case #: 18-1171
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 743 F. App’x 106 (9th Cir. 2018)
  • Full Text Opinion

Does a claim of race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 fail in the absence of but-for causation?

Petitioner and Respondent discussed a potential deal to distribute networks owned by Respondent. Petitioner ultimately declined to do so and Respondent filed suit alleging racial discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The United States District Court for the Central District of California granted Petitioner’s motion to dismiss. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed this decision. The court held that Petitioner need only plausibly allege that discrimination was a factor and not the but-for cause of Petitioner’s decision under Section 1981. Petitioner argues that but-for causation is the “default rule” and applicable standard for Section1981. Furthermore, “Section 1981 has not changed since its enactment” and there is nothing in its text that shows any indication of a departure from the default rule. Petitioner states that another interpretation of these claims creates a circuit split between the Ninth and the Third, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits and ignores United States Supreme Court precedent. Additionally, Petitioner argues that the court ignored alternative explanations for Petitioner’s decision. Petitioner argues that this contravenes the standard that plaintiffs must plead a plausible factual claim and would ultimately relieve plaintiffs of their factual burden.

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