484 U.S. 439 (1988), 86-595, United States v. Fausto

Docket Nº:No. 86-595
Citation:484 U.S. 439, 108 S.Ct. 668, 98 L.Ed.2d 830, 56 U.S.L.W. 4128
Party Name:United States v. Fausto
Case Date:January 25, 1988
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 439

484 U.S. 439 (1988)

108 S.Ct. 668, 98 L.Ed.2d 830, 56 U.S.L.W. 4128

United States

v.

Fausto

No. 86-595

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 25, 1988

Argued October 7, 1987

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT

Syllabus

In November, 1980, the Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) advised respondent, a nonpreference eligible employee in the excepted service, that it intended to dismiss him for a number of reasons, including unauthorized use of a Government vehicle. After he was discharged without being informed of grievance rights granted to him by the FWS regulations, respondent sought review by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), which dismissed his appeal on the ground that, under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), a nonpreference eligible in the excepted service has no right to appeal to the MSPB. In 1982, the FWS reconsidered the matter, concluded that only a 30-day suspension for misuse of a Government vehicle was warranted, and offered respondent backpay from the date the suspension would have ended until the date the program for which he was hired closed. On respondent's appeal, the Secretary of the Interior upheld the FWS decision, rejecting respondent's claims that his suspension was unwarranted and that he was entitled to additional backpay for the 30 days and a period beyond the close of the program. Respondent then filed this action under the Back Pay Act in the Claims Court, which dismissed on the ground that the CSRA was exclusively applicable and did not provide for judicial review in this situation. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that respondent could seek Claims Court review traditionally available under the Tucker Act based on the Back Pay Act, that his suspension was wrongful, and that he was entitled to backpay for the period of the suspension.

Held: The CSRA, which affords to nonpreference eligibles in the excepted service no administrative or judicial review of adverse personnel action of the type involved here, precludes judicial review for those employees under the Tucker Act based on the Back Pay Act. The CSRA was designed to replace the haphazard arrangements that had built up over almost a century with one integrated system for administrative and judicial review of adverse personnel action. The Act's comprehensive nature, its attention throughout to the rights of nonpreference excepted service employees, and the structure of the Act combine to establish that its failure to include these employees in the provisions for administrative and judicial review of the type of adverse personnel action involved

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here [108 S.Ct. 670] represents a congressional judgment that judicial review is not available. Interpreting the CSRA to foreclose review in this case is not contrary to the established principle of statutory construction that Congress will be presumed to have intended judicial review of agency action unless there is "persuasive reason" to believe otherwise. Here, in view of the statutory scheme, there is ample basis for applying the exception contained in the principle. Moreover, the principle of statutory construction disfavoring repeals by implication is not applicable here with regard to the CSRA's effect on the Back Pay Act. Rather, the classic judicial task of reconciling laws is involved. Pp. 443-455.

783 F.2d 1020 and 791 F.2d 1554, reversed.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 455. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 455.

SCALIA, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent Joseph A. Fausto, an employee of the Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), was suspended from his job for 30 days because of unauthorized use of a Government vehicle. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that he could maintain a suit for backpay in the United States Claims Court alleging that his suspension was in violation of Department of the Interior regulations. We granted certiorari to decide whether the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA or Act), Pub.L.

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95-454, 92 Stat. 1111 et seq. (codified, as amended, in various sections of 5 U.S.C. (1982 ed. and Supp. IV)), which affords an employee in respondent's situation no review of the agency's decision, precludes such a Claims Court suit.

I

Respondent was hired by FWS in January, 1978, as an administrative officer for the Young Adult Conservation Corps camp in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His position was in the excepted service,1 and was to last for the duration of the Conservation Corps program at Virginia Beach, but not beyond September 30, 1982.

In November, 1980, FWS advised respondent that it intended to dismiss him for a number of reasons, including unauthorized use of a Government vehicle. After respondent replied to the charges, he received a memorandum from FWS informing him that he would be removed effective January 16, 1981. That memorandum did not advise respondent of his grievance rights under Department of the Interior [108 S.Ct. 671] regulations, which included the right to a formal hearing conducted

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by a grievance examiner. See Department of the Interior Federal Personnel Manual -- 231, pt. 370 DM, ch. 771, subch. 3, 3.22A (May 4, 1981).2

Respondent sought review of his removal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), which dismissed his appeal in August, 1981, on the ground that, under the CSRA, a nonpreference eligible in the excepted service has no right to appeal to the MSPB. Fausto v. Department of Interior, No. PH 075281102271 (M.S.P.B. Aug. 27, 1981), aff'd, 738 F.2d 454 (CA Fed.1984) (judgment order). On September 18, 1981, FWS permanently closed the camp at Virginia Beach. In March, 1982, in response to an inquiry initiated on behalf of respondent, FWS admitted that respondent had not been informed of his grievance rights, and offered him the opportunity to challenge his removal. Respondent filed a formal grievance, and on June 30, 1982, FWS concluded, based on the administrative file and without a hearing, that respondent should not have been removed. FWS found that most of the charges against respondent were de minimis and warranted no penalty, but imposed a 30-day suspension for misuse of a Government vehicle. Se 31 U.S.C. § 638a(c)(2) (1976 ed.) (now codified at 31 U.S.C. § 1349(b)). FWS offered respondent backpay from February 15, 1981, the date his 30-day suspension would have ended, through September 18, 1981, the date the camp was closed.

Respondent filed an appeal with the Department of the Interior, claiming that his suspension was unwarranted and that he was entitled to additional backpay for the period covered by the suspension as well as for the period from the date on which the camp closed through the date on which FWS admitted that he should not have been removed. The Secretary of the Interior upheld FWS's decision.

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In February, 1983, respondent filed the present action under the Back Pay Act, 5 U.S.C. § 5596, in the Claims Court. The Claims Court dismissed, holding that the CSRA comprised the exclusive catalog of remedies for civil servants affected by adverse personnel action. 7 Cl.Ct. 459, 461 (1985). The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded, 783 F.2d 1020 (1986), holding that, although the CSRA did not afford nonpreference excepted service employees a right of appeal to the MSPB, it did not preclude them from seeking the Claims Court review traditionally available under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1491, based on the Back Pay Act. 783 F.2d at 1022-1023. On the merits, it found Fausto's suspension wrongful, and awarded backpay for the period of the suspension. Id. at 1023-1024. The Court of Appeals denied the Government's petition for rehearing of the case en banc, but issued a second panel opinion reaffirming its decision. 791 F.2d 1554 (1986).

The Government petitioned for certiorari on the question whether a nonveteran member of the excepted service may obtain, under the Tucker Act, judicial review of adverse personnel action for which the CSRA does not provide him a right of review.

II

We have recognized that the CSRA "comprehensively overhauled the civil service system," Lindahl v. OPM, 470 U.S. 768, 773 (1985), creating an elaborate "new framework for evaluating adverse personnel actions against [federal employees]," id. at 774. It prescribes in great detail the protections and remedies applicable to such action, including the availability of administrative and judicial review. No provision of the CSRA gives nonpreference members of the excepted service the right to administrative or judicial [108 S.Ct. 672] review of suspension for misconduct. The question we face is whether that withholding of remedy was meant to preclude judicial review for those employees, or rather merely to leave

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them free to pursue the remedies that had been available before enactment of the CSRA. The answer is to be found by examining the purpose of the CSRA, the entirety of its text, and the structure of review that it establishes. See Lindahl, supra, at 779; Block v. Community Nutrition Institute, 467 U.S. 340, 345 (1984).

A leading purpose of the CSRA was to replace the haphazard arrangements for administrative and judicial review of personnel action, part of the "outdated patchwork of statutes and rules built up over almost a century" that was the civil service system, S.Rep. No. 95-969, p. 3 (1978). Under that preexisting system, only veterans enjoyed a statutory right to appeal adverse...

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