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Texas Health and Human Services Commission, food stamps, welfare, poverty, Texas, Low-income families


The Supreme Court has consistently held that congressional intent governs whether federal statutes are privately enforceable. Where Congress has been silent, a line of cases culminating in Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273 (2002), prescribes a formula for inferring congressional intent from the structure of a statute. Here, however, Congress has not been silent: the Food and Nutrition Act specifies the amount of retroactive benefits that may be awarded households in “any judicial action arising under this Act” and makes certain records of state agencies “available for review in any action filed by a household to enforce any provision of this Act (including regulations issued under this Act)”. This express authorization of private enforcement obviates the need to determine the availability of an implied private right of action under Gonzaga. Other provisions of the Act show that Congress has responded whenever courts called its private enforceability into question. Provisions of congressional budget process statutes, copious legislative history, the Act’s authoritative administrative construction, and a vast body of case law all confirm the availability of a private right of action.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Social Welfare Law