480 U.S. 149 (1987), 85-999, United States v. Paradise

Docket Nº:No. 85-999
Citation:480 U.S. 149, 107 S.Ct. 1053, 94 L.Ed.2d 203, 55 U.S.L.W. 4211
Party Name:United States v. Paradise
Case Date:February 25, 1987
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 149

480 U.S. 149 (1987)

107 S.Ct. 1053, 94 L.Ed.2d 203, 55 U.S.L.W. 4211

United States



No. 85-999

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 25, 1987

Argued November 12, 1986



In 1972, upon finding that, for almost four decades, the Alabama Department of Public Safety (Department) had systematically excluded blacks from employment as state troopers in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, the District Court issued an order imposing a hiring quota and requiring the Department to refrain from engaging in discrimination in its employment practices, including promotions. By 1979, no blacks had attained the upper ranks of the Department. The court therefore approved a partial consent decree in which the Department agreed to develop within one year a procedure for promotion to corporal that would have no adverse impact on blacks and would comply with the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (Guidelines), and thereafter to develop similar procedures for the other upper ranks (1979 Decree). As of 1981, however, more than a year after the 1979 Decree's deadline, no black troopers had been promoted. The court approved a second consent decree in which the parties agreed that the Department's proposed corporal promotion test would be administered to applicants, that the results would be reviewed to determine any adverse impact on blacks under the Guidelines, that the determination of a procedure would be submitted to the court if the parties were unable to agree thereon, and that no promotions would occur until the parties agreed or the court ruled upon the promotion method to be used (1981 Decree). Of the 60 blacks to whom the test was administered, only 5 (8.3%) were listed in the top half of the promotional register, and the highest ranked black was number 80. The Department then declared that it had an immediate need for between 8 and 10 new corporals, and stated its intention to elevate between 16 and 20 individuals before constructing a new list. The United States objected to any use of the list in making promotions. In 1983, the District Court held that the test had an adverse impact on blacks, and ordered the Department to submit a plan to promote at least 15 qualified candidates to corporal in a manner that would not have an adverse racial impact. The Department proposed to promote 4 blacks among the 15 new corporals, but the court rejected that proposal and ordered that "for a period of time," at least 50% of those promoted to corporal must be black, if qualified black candidates were available, and imposed a 50% promotional requirement in the other upper ranks, but only

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if there were qualified black candidates, if a particular rank were less than 25% black, and if the Department had not developed and implemented a promotion plan without adverse impact for the relevant rank. The Department was also ordered to submit a realistic schedule for the development of promotional procedures for all ranks above the entry level. Subsequently, the Department promoted eight blacks and eight whites under the court's order, and submitted its proposed corporal and sergeant promotional procedures, at which times the court suspended the 50% requirement for those ranks. The United States appealed the court's order on the ground that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection guarantee. The Court of Appeals affirmed the order.

Held: The judgment is affirmed.

767 F.2d 1614, affirmed.

JUSTICE BRENNAN, joined by JUSTICE MARSHALL, JUSTICE BLACKMUN, and JUSTICE POWELL, concluded that, even under a strict scrutiny analysis, the one-black-for-one-white promotion requirement is permissible under the Equal Protection Clause [107 S.Ct. 1056] of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 166-186.

1. The race-conscious relief ordered by the District Court is justified by a compelling governmental interest in eradicating the Department's pervasive, systematic, and obstinate discriminatory exclusion of blacks. The contention that promotion relief is unjustified because the Department has been found to have committed only hiring discrimination is without merit, since promotion, like hiring, has been a central concern of the District Court since the action's commencement. The Department's intentional hiring discrimination had a profound effect on the force's upper ranks by precluding blacks from competing for promotions. Moreover, the record amply demonstrates that the Department's promotional procedure is itself discriminatory, resulting in an upper rank structure that totally excludes blacks. Pp. 166-170.

2. The District Court's enforcement order is also supported by the societal interest in compliance with federal court judgments. The Department has had a consistent history of resistance to the District Court's orders, and relief was imposed only after the Department failed to live up to its court-approved commitments. Pp. 170-171.

3. The one-for-one promotional requirement is narrowly tailored to serve its purposes, both as applied to the initial corporal promotions and as a continuing contingent order with respect to the upper ranks. Pp. 171-186.

(a) The one-for-one requirement is necessary to eliminate the effects of the Department's long-term, open, and pervasive discrimination, including the absolute exclusion of blacks in the upper ranks; to ensure

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expeditious compliance with the 1979 and 1981 Decrees by inducing the implementation of a promotional procedure that would not have an adverse racial impact; and to eradicate the ill effects of the Department's delay in producing such a procedure. The option proffered by the Department -- to promote 4 blacks and 11 whites as a stopgap measure, and to allow additional time for the development and submission of a nondiscriminatory procedure -- would not have satisfied any of the above purposes. Furthermore, the heavy fines and fees suggested by the Government as an alternative were never actually proposed to the District Court; were likely to be.ineffective, since the imposition of attorney's fees and costs in the past had not prevented delays; would not have compensated the plaintiffs for the delays; and would not have satisfied the Department's need to make 15 promotions immediately. Pp. 171-177.

(b) The one-for-one requirement is flexible in application at all ranks, in that it applies only when the Department needs to make promotions and does not require gratuitous promotions. Furthermore, the requirement may be waived by the court if there are no qualified black troopers, and, in fact, this has already happened with respect to lieutenant and captain positions. Moreover, the requirement is temporary, its term being contingent upon the Department's successful implementation of valid promotional procedures. It was, in fact, suspended upon the timely submission of procedures for promotion to corporal and sergeant. Pp. 177-178.

(c) The numerical relief ordered bears a proper relation to the percentage of nonwhites in the relevant work force, since the District Court ordered 50% black promotions until each rank is 25% black, whereas blacks constitute 25% of the relevant labor market. The one-for-one requirement is not arbitrary when compared to the 25% minority labor pool, since the 50% figure is not itself the goal, but merely represents the speed at which the 25% goal will be achieved, some promptness being justified by the Department's history of discrimination and delays. Although the 50% figure necessarily involves a degree of imprecision, it represents the District Court's informed attempt to balance the rights and interests of the plaintiffs, the [107 S.Ct. 1057] Department, and white troopers. Pp. 179-182.

(d) The one-for-one requirement does not impose an unacceptable burden on innocent white promotion applicants. The requirement is temporary and limited in nature, has only been used once, and may never be used again. It does not bar, but simply postpones, advancement by some whites, and does not require the layoff or discharge of whites or the promotion of unqualified blacks over qualified whites.

(e) District judges, having firsthand experience with the parties and the particular situation, are given broad discretion to fashion appropriate

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remedies to cure Fourteenth Amendment violations, and the exercise of that discretion is entitled to substantial respect. Pp. 183-185.

JUSTICE STEVENS concluded that Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Education, 402 U.S. 1, sets forth the appropriate governing standards for district court remedial orders in cases such as the present that involve racially discriminatory state actions violative of the Fourteenth Amendment. Because the record here discloses an egregious violation of the Equal Protection Clause, the District Court had broad and flexible authority to fashion race-conscious relief under the Swann standards. There has been no showing that the District Judge abused his discretion in doing so. Pp. 189-195.

BRENNAN, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion in which MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 186. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 189. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting statement, post, p. 196. O'CONNOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and SCALIA, J., joined, post, p. 196.

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BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE BRENNAN announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion in which JUSTICE MARSHALL, JUSTICE BLACKMUN, and JUSTICE POWELL join.

The question we must decide is whether relief awarded in this case, in the form of a one-black-for-one-white promotion requirement to be applied as an interim measure to state trooper promotions in the Alabama Department of Public Safety (Department), is...

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