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Using Section 1983 to Enforce Federal Laws

By Jane Perkins

Private enforcement of federal statutes through Section 1983 has become more complicated since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Gonzaga University v. Doe. State attorneys now raise new arguments that Medicaid, housing, food stamp, and other federal acts may not be enforced through Section 1983, and some lower courts are accepting these arguments. Attorneys who represent the beneficiaries of federal statutes can take several steps to assist their clients in successfully enforcing their federal rights through Section 1983.

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