The district court properly found that it lacked jurisdiction over the plaintiff-appellant’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It is settled law that a waiver of sovereign immunity must be unambiguous and unequivocal, and here Congress has enacted no such waiver.
This case centers on the meaning of the word “person” in 15 U.S.C. § 1681n and § 1681o, specifically whether the federal government is a “person” for purposes of FCRA’s general civil liability provisions. When Congress means to waive sovereign immunity in a provision otherwise applying to persons, it says so explicitly. The United States is not ordinarily considered to be a person. On this ordinary understanding, the Act’s enforcement provisions wouldn’t apply to the federal government. In the universe of possible waivers, this would be a very casual one, and the stark contrasts between the Act’s civil liability provisions and recognized waivers serve as strong evidence that Congress did not waive sovereign immunity under FCRA.