Amicus Brief

Westside Mothers et al v James Haveman, Director of Michigan Department of Community Health; and Robert Smedes, Deputy Direcotr of Medical Services Administration

Case Year: 2001
Case Forum: U.S. Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Keywords: Medicaid, spending clause powers
Amicus Counsel:

Fordham E. Huffman | Chad A. Readler | Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue | 1900 Huntington Center | 41 S. High Street | Columbus, OH 43215 | 614-469-3939 |

William C. Mathewson | General Counsel, Michigan Municipal League |

Lucille Taylor | Legal Counsel to Governor John Engler

CoAmicus Parties:

Governer John Engler


Congress enacted the Medicaid Act in accordance with its Spending Clause powers. Under settled principles of Spending Clause jurisprudence, statutes like the Medicaid Act create a contract between the Federal Government, which has offered the State federal funding in exchange for compliance with certain conditions, and the State, which has agreed to
these conditions by accepting the proffered funds. In this instance, however, nothing in the statute expressly grants these plaintiffs (or any other private citizens) a private right of action to enforce its provisions. As the US Supreme Court has made clear, local government entities are bound only by the unambiguously expressed terms of such Spending Clause contracts, and plaintiffs have identified nothing in the
Medicaid statute evidencing (let alone clearly evidencing) that Michigan has agreed to private enforcement actions. Instead, they filed this suit under 42 U.S.c. § 1983 which provides a generic cause of action to vindicate “rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. Not only does section 1983 fail to provide such a clear statement, but the historical evidence positively undermines the notion that this civil rights statute was meant to be a catch-all mechanism for bringing actions to enforce all manner of
Spending Clause legislation that does not itself provide for private rights of action.


We REVERSE the district court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants, AFFIRM in part and REVERSE in part the district court’s dismissal of organizational plaintiffs for lack of standing, and REMAND the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No
Case Number: 1999-15
©2022 Michigan Municipal League LLC. All rights reserved