University of Texas v. Camenisch
451 U.S. 390 (1981)

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U.S. Supreme Court

University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390 (1981)

University of Texas v. Camenisch

No. 8317

Argued March 31, 1981

Decided April 29, 1981

451 U.S. 390

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Respondent, a deaf graduate student at petitioner University, filed a complaint in Federal District Court, alleging that the University had violated § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by discriminatorily refusing to pay for a sign language interpreter for respondent, and declaratory and injunctive relief was sought. Finding a possibility that respondent would be irreparably harmed in the absence of an injunction, and that he was likely to prevail on the merits, the District Court, inter alia, granted a preliminary injunction on the condition that respondent post a security bond pending the outcome of the litigation. The Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of the injunction. In the meantime, the University had obeyed the injunction by paying for respondent's interpreter and respondent had been graduated, but the Court of Appeals rejected a suggestion that the case was moot, noting that the issue of who should bear the cost of the interpreter remained to be decided.

Held: The question whether a preliminary injunction should have been issued is moot, because the terms of the injunction have been fully and irrevocably carried out, but, as the Court of Appeals correctly noted, the question whether the University must pay for the interpreter remains for trial on the merits. Pp. 451 U. S. 393-398.

(a) To suggest that the decisions of the courts below, to the extent that they considered respondent's likelihood of success on the merits in granting a preliminary injunction, were tantamount to decisions on the underlying merits, and thus that the preliminary injunction issue is not truly moot, improperly equates "likelihood of success" with "success," and ignores the significant procedural differences between preliminary and permanent injunctions. P. 451 U. S. 394.

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