Statement on Signing the
Handicapped Children's Protection Act of 1986
August 5, 1986
have signed S. 415, the Handicapped Children's Protection Act of 1986. S. 415 provides for the award of reasonable attorneys' fees to the
parent or guardian of a handicapped child who prevails in a suit under the act.
However, I have serious reservations concerning section 5 of the act, which
permits the award of attorneys' fees in any case that was pending on July
including suits that have already been concluded. The retroactive application
of the act to cases that are no longer pending permits the Congress to displace
the judicial function by interfering with a final judgment. To do so disturbs
the settled expectations of the parties and the traditional finality that our
society has accorded court decisions. Moreover, it is not clear what rational
basis there is for imposing attorneys' fees in cases that have already been
settled or finally adjudicated. However, given the underlying merits of the act
generally, I am signing this measure, notwithstanding the constitutional
problems it presents.
S. 415, approved August 5, was assigned Public Law No. 99 - 372.