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USSC Looks to Employment Discrimination Statutes to Define "But For" Causation in Criminal Case

In Burrage v. United States, the United States Supreme Court addressed the element of causation in a criminal statute, which specifically contain the phrase "results from." Though this was a criminal proceeding, the Court used analogous employment discrimination statutes, such as Title VII's anti-retaliation provision, to clarify the meaning of the phrase. The Court reasoned that "Where there is no textual or contextual indication to the contrary, courts regularly read phrases like 'results from' to require but-for causality," which generally looks to whether the alleged result would not have occurred but for the existence of a certain cause or event. Scalia's opinion clarified that there can be multiple "but for" causes of a challenged action, and that a plaintiff is not required to show that the challenged action was solely the result of some impermissible motive.

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