Environmental justice litigants have used federal courts to challenge actions on the part of federal fund recipients that have a disparate impact, regardless of intent. In the environmental justice context, it is nearly impossible to provide evidence of discriminatory intent. Unfortunately, the federal courts have all but eliminated a private right of action to enforce violations of federal agency regulations enacted pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibit such an impact. It is plain that the courts will not imply a private right of action to enforce these regulations. The question remains whether litigants may use an alternative enforcement mechanism, 42 U.S.C. 1983, to sue for violations of their Title VI rights. The answer is not simple because the purported rights are regulatory, and the current Supreme Court has made clear that evidence of congressional intent is required.
Lisa S. Core,
Alexander v. Sandoval: Why a Supreme Court Case About Driver's Licenses Matters to Environmental Justice Advocates,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.