ACLU Hails Supreme Court Decision in Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski

June 8, 2023 12:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — In a major win for civil rights enforcement, the Supreme Court affirmed today in Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski the right of nursing home residents to sue to enforce their rights under the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act (FNHRA). The decision ensures that citizens can sue for civil rights violations under a host of laws, such as Title IX and Title VI, that impose nondiscrimination requirements on recipients of federal funding.

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Indiana filed an amicus brief in the case along with the Constitutional Accountability Center in support of Talevski, arguing that Section 1983 endorses a private right of action for all rights-creating statutes. By a 7-2 vote, the Court agreed, rejecting an argument that no such rights exist where Congress imposes nondiscrimination obligations as a condition of federal funding.

“This decision is a crucial victory for the civil rights of nursing home residents, people with disabilities, and everyone protected under Titles VI and IX of the Civil Rights Act,” said Susan Mizner, director of the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program. “For decades, courts have recognized the right of individuals to sue to vindicate their rights. We’re pleased the Supreme Court rejected a radical rewrite of history and precedent.”

The case involves Gorgi Talevski, who resided at a nursing home in Indiana where he was chemically restrained before being abruptly moved to a different facility. After his death, Talevski’s family sued the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County under Section 1983 for depriving his federal rights guaranteed by the FNHRA, including the right to be free from unnecessary chemical restraint and the requirement that certain conditions be met before discharging or transferring a nursing home resident.

The Supreme Court’s decision is here:

Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski is part of the ACLU’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Supreme Court Docket.

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