June 20, 2011
SCOTUS Decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes
The Supreme Court issued its decision today in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes (No. 10-277), reversing the Ninth Circuit's certification of the class action. Justice Scalia writes the Opinion of the Court, which is joined in its entirety by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. Justice Ginsburg writes an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, which is joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Those four Justices join the majority opinion only with respect to Parts I and III.
The opinions break down as follows:
Part II of Justice Scalia’s majority opinion concludes that the class action does not satisfy the “commonality” requirement of Rule 23(a). See FRCP 23(a)(2) (requiring that “there are questions of law or fact common to the class”). Justice Ginsburg's opinion disagrees with the majority on this issue. (Recap here.)
Part III of Justice Scalia’s opinion, which is joined by all nine Justices, concludes that the class members’ claims for backpay were not properly certified under Rule 23(b)(2), which allows class treatment “when the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole.” (Recap here.)