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Dep't of the Navy v. Egan

Supreme Court of the United States

December 2, 1987, Argued ; February 23, 1988, Decided

No. 86-1552

Opinion

 [*520]  [***923]  [**820]    JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.

 Respondent Thomas M. Egan lost his laborer's job at the Trident Naval Refit Facility in Bremerton, Wash., when he was denied a required security clearance. The narrow question presented by this case  [***924]  is whether the Merit Systems Protection Board (Board) has authority by statute to review the substance of an underlying decision to deny or revoke a security clearance in the course of reviewing an adverse action. The Board ruled that it had no such authority. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, by a divided vote, reversed. We granted certiorari because of the importance of the issue in its relation to national security concerns. 481 U.S. 1068 (1987).

 [****6]  Respondent Egan was a new hire and began his work at the facility on November 29, 1981. He served as a veteran's-preference-eligible civilian employee of the Navy subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (Act), 5 U. S. C. § 1201 et seq. 

The mission of the Refit Facility is to provide quick-turn-around repair, replenishment, and systems check-out of the Trident submarine over its extended operating cycle.  The Trident is nuclear-powered and carries nuclear weapons. It has been described as the most sophisticated and sensitive weapon in the Navy's arsenal and as playing a crucial part in our Nation's defense system. See Concerned About Trident v. Schlesinger, 400 F. Supp. 454, 462-466 (DC 1975), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 180 U.S. App. D. C. 345, 555 F. 2d 817 (1977). As a consequence, all employee positions at the Refit Facility are classified as sensitive. Thus, as shown on his Standard Form, a condition precedent to Egan's retention of his employment was "satisfactory completion of security and medical reports."

 [*521]  In April 1982, respondent gained the "noncritical-sensitive"  [****7]  position of laborer leader. 2 Pending the outcome of his security investigation, however, he performed  [**821]  only limited duties and was not permitted to board any submarine.

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484 U.S. 518 *; 108 S. Ct. 818 **; 98 L. Ed. 2d 918 ***; 1988 U.S. LEXIS 936 ****; 56 U.S.L.W. 4150

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY v. EGAN

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT.

Disposition:  802 F. 2d 1563, reversed.

CORE TERMS

national security, security clearance, removal, discharges, clearance, procedural protections, security-clearance, reasons, merits, provisions, preponderance of evidence, determinations, nonsensitive, classified, employees, adverse action, circumstances, grounds, notice

Governments, Federal Government, Employees & Officials, Administrative Law, Agency Adjudication, Review of Initial Decisions, Domestic Security, Claims By & Against, Constitutional Law, The Presidency, Commander in Chief, General Overview, Executive Offices, Estate, Gift & Trust Law, Nonprobate Transfers, Jointly Held Property, Bank Accounts, Judicial Review, Reviewability