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Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman

United States Supreme Court
465 U.S. 89 (1984)



Halderman (plaintiff) was one of a class of plaintiffs filing suit against Pennhurst State School (defendant), which was a state operated institution for the care of the mentally disabled. The suit claimed that conditions at the School violated patients’ Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as provisions of certain federal and state laws. The federal court of appeals concluded that the plaintiffs were entitled to relief under the federal Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. The United States Supreme Court found that the federal act did not confer any substantive rights and remanded the case to the court of appeals to determine whether the Constitution, state law, or the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 could afford grounds for remedial relief. On remand, the court of appeals found that state law supported its prior remedial order. Pennhurst State School petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review on grounds that the Eleventh Amendment prohibited the federal court from ordering state officials to comply with the provisions of a state law.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

Dissent (Brennan, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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