Ballard v. Laird

Decision Date26 June 1973
Docket NumberCiv. No. 72-218-S.
Citation360 F. Supp. 643
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of California
PartiesLt. Robert C. BALLARD, U. S. N., Plaintiff, v. Melvin LAIRD, Secretary of Defense et al., Defendants.

Charles R. Khoury, Jr., La Jolla, Cal., for plaintiff.

Frederick B. Holoboff, Asst. U. S. Atty., S. D. Cal., San Diego, Cal., for defendants.

Before CARTER, Circuit Judge, and EAST and SCHWARTZ, District Judges.*

OPINION

EAST, Senior District Judge:

STATEMENT OF CASE

Factual Situation:

It appears from the complaint herein that:

The plaintiff, Lt. Robert C. Ballard, U.S.N. (Ballard) as of June 16, 1972, has been in continuous active commissioned service (service) in the United States Navy (USN) since August 16, 1962, and had attained the commission grade of lieutenant, USN. Prior to commissioning, Ballard had served in the USN as an enlisted man for seven years.

Notwithstanding a continuing meritorious service on his part, and pursuant only to command function regulation and custom, Ballard had not been promoted to the grade of lieutenant commander and had twice been passed over for such promotion.

The parties concede that on or about March 17, 1972, the Chief of Naval Personnel, USN, acting for himself and all the defendants in their respective capacities, respectively, advised Ballard that the provisions of 10 U.S.C. § 6382 required that he, and other "officers of his category be honorably discharged on 30 June of the fiscal year they twice fail of selection for promotion to lieutenant commander. This provision of the law provides no latitude with regard to your continuation on active duty beyond 30 June 1972. Accordingly, your discharge will be processed for 30 June 1972 unless you request earlier separation . . . ."

Statutes:

The pertinent statutes involved in this cause are 10 U.S.C. § 6382

"(a) Each officer on the active list of the Navy serving in the grade of lieutenant, except an officer in the Nurse Corps, . . . shall be honorably discharged on June 30 of the fiscal year in which he is considered as having failed of selection for promotion to the grade of lieutenant commander . . . for the second time."

and 10 U.S.C. § 6401

"(a) Each woman officer on the active list of the Navy, appointed under section 5590 of this title, who holds a permanent appointment in the grade of lieutenant . . . shall be honorably discharged on June 30 of the fiscal year in which—
(1) she is not on a promotion list; and
(2) she has completed 13 years of active commissioned service in the Navy . . . ."

Ballard's Contentions:

Ballard filed his complaint herein on June 16, 1972, wherein he contended, inter alia, that:

(a) If discharged on June 30th next pursuant to the provisions of Section 6382 he would be caused very substantial monetary damage through the loss of retirement benefits to which he would be entitled on or about January 1, 1975, and further, that he would suffer irreparable damage to his Naval career through the unequal treatment and protection of the laws of the United States;

(b) Section 6401 grants female officers a minimum tenure term of 13 years commissioned service before mandatory discharge thereunder and Section 6382 grants male officers in like grade and situation no tenure;

(c) He is being discharged pursuant to Section 6382 without the benefit of 13 years service, accordingly, the section "discriminates against him because of his sex when compared to . . . Section 6401 which applies to women in like grade and situation and that this deprives him of a benefit solely because of his sex," all violative of the equal treatment and protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; and

(d) Further, he is being otherwise denied his constitutional rights under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Relief:

Ballard sought temporary restraining order and permanent declaratory and injunctive relief from the threatened discharge, and on June 20, 1972, the Honorable Edward J. Schwartz, District Judge of this District, issued herein the requested temporary restraining order. Thereafter, this three-judge District Court was convened and upon hearing the parties, denied several motions of the defendants and continued the temporary restraining order in effect. On October 25, 1972, this three-judge court entered its Memorandum, Ballard v. Laird, et al., 350 F.Supp. 167, directing the issuance of a preliminary injunction enjoining the discharge of Ballard pursuant to Section 6382 until final determination and set a date certain for final hearing of the cause on its merits.

On March 8, 1973, we heard the parties on motions putting the cause to us on its merits, received into evidence further written agreement of facts, documents and affidavits offered by the parties and took the cause under submission.

FINDINGS OF FACT

This court made findings of fact upon the evidence then submitted and stated reasons for its conclusions in the Memorandum. Those reasons are again made and stated herein by reference and findings of fact of the Memorandum repeated as follows:

We find that plaintiff:

1. Is a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and has been a commissioned officer since August 16, 1962, for a total of more than nine years continuous active commissioned service. Prior to commission, he served seven years as an enlisted man.

2. Has served with distinction in the U.S. Navy and with overall outstanding fitness reports. In all of his fitness reports he has been recommended for promotion.

3. Was scheduled to be discharged and would have been, but for the restraining order, on June 30th last, from the naval service for the sole reason that plaintiff had not been promoted to Lt. Commander during the nine years and ten and one-half months that plaintiff has been in active commissioned service as required by Sec. 6382, supra.

4. If discharged as of June 30th, last, will receive severance pay of approximately $15,000, as opposed to approximately $200,000 of benefits which would accrue to him if allowed to serve in commissioned status at least thirteen years.

In addition, we find that:

As of March 8, 1973, Ballard had increased his continuous commissioned service to a total of 10 calendar years, 6 calendar months and 22 days, and that the service of Ballard utilized under the restraining orders had been of high merit and much value to the USN;

The threatened USN order of discharge, under restraint, as aforesaid, continues to be implemented and based solely upon the mandatory discharge provisions of Section 6382; and

No woman USN officer has been heretofore discharged from commissioned service pursuant to the provisions of Section 6382.

DISCUSSION

We reach Ballard's claims of unequal and discriminatory treatment arising from the enforcement of the mandatory discharge requirements of Section 6382 under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

"While the Fifth Amendment contains no equal protection clause, it does forbid discrimination that is `so unjustifiable as to be violative of due process.' Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497, 499, 74 S.Ct. 693, 694, 98 L.Ed. 884." Schneider v. Rusk, 377 U.S. 163 (1964), at 168, 84 S.Ct. 1187 at 1190, 12 L.Ed.2d 218 (favoring native born over naturalized citizens).

Bolling tells us that "we have this day held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the states from maintaining racially segregated public schools." "The concepts of equal protection and due process, both stemming from our American ideal of fairness, are not mutually exclusive," 347 U.S. at 499, 74 S. Ct. at 694. So, "in view of our decision that the Constitution prohibits the states from maintaining racially segregated public schools, it would be unthinkable that the same Constitution would impose a lesser duty on the Federal Government," at 500, 74 S.Ct. at 695, under the due process clause.

There is no evidence before us nor is it contended by the defendants that "having failed of selection for promotion" or "is not on a promotion list" is necessarily related to quality of service on the part of the officer, male or female, nor do the mandatory discharge provisions respectively involve in any manner the exercise of USN command function or policy governing the promotion and discharge, for cause, of any USN commissioned officer. Accordingly, as noted in the Memorandum, such authorities as Beard v. Stahr, 200 F. Supp. 766 (D.C.1961), and Struck v. Secretary, 460 F.2d 1372 (9th Cir. 1972), cert. granted and remanded, 409 U.S. 947, 1071, 93 S.Ct. 292, 676, 34 L. Ed.2d 217, 660 (1972), are distinguishable and of no concern to us.

The mandatory discharge provisions of each of the sections are pure and simple legislative dictates and commands of an administrative or fiscal character and policy. In the Memorandum we spoke of the inbalance of supply and demand of commissioned officers caused by the rise and ebb of national emergencies and of the taxing of command decision and function in the acceleration and deferring of the time intervals of promotion caused thereby.

It is the result of this inbalance that placed Ballard in the grade of lieutenant prior to the time lapse of the norm of prescribed promotion intervals and kept him in that grade for the two passovers. Thus was created the surplus of some 238 USN lieutenants who were subject to Section 6382 discharge on June 30, 1972, all for the lack of vacancies in the grade of lieutenant commander.

We deem the mandatory discharge provisions of Section 6382 to be legislative fiscal outlay saving devices for the weeding out of a surplus of USN officers in a given grade before the vesting of retirement benefits. We acknowledge that no constitutional quarrel can be made over such a legislative policy per se. Yet, the Memorandum anticipated and we now see a constitutional ban against the built-in invidious discriminatory...

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    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 2 d1 Dezembro d1 1974
    ...the degree of judicial scrutiny applicable to sex classifications. The Court is presented with a similar opportunity in Ballard v. Laird, S.D.Cal.1973, 360 F. Supp. 643, prob. juris. noted sub nom. Schlesinger v. Ballard, 1974, 415 U.S. 912, 94 S.Ct. 1405, 39 L.Ed.2d 465, which raises the i......
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