Kush v. Rutledge
Annotate this Case
460 U.S. 719 (1983)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Kush v. Rutledge, 460 U.S. 719 (1983)
Kush v. Rutledge
Argued January 12, 1983
Decided April 4, 1983
460 U.S. 719
In his action in Federal District Court, and in state administrative and judicial proceedings, respondent, a white male, asserted a variety of common law and statutory claims against Arizona State University and certain of its officials (including petitioners) arising out of incidents occurring while he was a member of the University's football squad. One of the claims was that three of the petitioners had engaged in a conspiracy to intimidate and threaten various potential material witnesses in order to prevent them from testifying "freely, fully and truthfully" in the action, in violation of the first part of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2) (1976 ed., Supp. V). The District Court dismissed the entire complaint. The Court of Appeals, while affirming the dismissal of certain of respondent's claims and remanding as to others, reversed with respect to the claim at issue. The court concluded that respondent's claims of witness intimidation, insofar as they related to obstruction of justice at the state level, were not actionable under the second part of § 1985(2) -- which prohibits a conspiracy to obstruct the due course of justice in a State "with intent to deny any citizen the equal protection of the laws" -- because there was no sufficient allegation of racial or class-based invidiously discriminatory animus. The court concluded, however, that such an allegation -- which was held to be necessary in Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U. S. 88, to avoid creating a general federal tort law with regard to a portion of § 1985(3) -- was not applicable to alleged intimidation of witnesses in the federal courts in violation of the first part of § 1985(2).
Held: No allegations of racial or class-based invidiously discriminatory animus are required to establish a cause of action under the first part of § 1985(2). The statutory provisions now codified at § 1985 were originally enacted as § 2 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, and the substantive meaning of the 1871 Act has not been changed. The provisions relating to institutions and processes of the Federal Government (including the first part of § 1985(2)) -- unlike those encompassing activity that is usually of primary state concern (including the second part of § 1985(2) and the part of § 1985(3) involved in Griffin, supra -- contain no language requiring that the conspirators act with intent to deprive their victims of the equal protection of the laws. Thus, the reasoning of Griffin is not applicable here, and, given the structure of § 2 of the 1871 Act, it is clear
that Congress did not intend to impose a requirement of class-based animus on persons seeking to prove a violation of their rights under the first part of § 1985(2). The legislative history supports this conclusion. Pp. 460 U. S. 724-727.
660 F.2d 1345, affirmed.
STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.