Supreme Court Finds §1981 Plaintiff Must Satisfy ‘But-For’ Causation During All Stages of Trial

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American-Owned Media that the plaintiff bears the burden of showing that race was the “but-for” cause of the alleged injury in §1981 cases. Entertainment Studios Network (ESN), an African-American owned television-network operator, approached Comcast Corporation about carrying its channels. Comcast declined to carry the channels due to lack of programming demand, bandwidth constrictions, and a preference for programming not offered by ESN. Together with the National Association of African-owned Media, ESN sued Comcast alleging the media giant’s behavior violated  42 U. S. C. §1981. The District Court found in favor of Comcast after three rounds of pleadings, motions, and dismissals. The Ninth Circuit reversed the decision finding the District Court used the wrong causation standard. Read the Supreme Court’s opinion when it vacated the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings.