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When I was invited to participate in this symposium, I was asked to discuss whether the causation defense developed in Mt. Healthy City School District Board of Education v. Doyle applied to cases challenging state action under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As I argue below, it seems clear that Mt. Healthy does apply to equal protection cases. The Supreme Court explicitly so held last November in Texas v. Lesage. But the implications of Lesage go beyond questions of causation. The opinion suggests that the Court may be rethinking (or ignoring) its promise in Carey v. Piphus that section 1983 plaintiffs can recover nominal damages and, when actual injury can be established, damages for mental and emotional distress.

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