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In determining whether race-conscious remedies are appropriate, a court looks to several factors, including the necessity for the relief and the efficacy of alternative remedies; the flexibility and duration of the relief, including the availability of waiver provisions; the relationship of the numerical goals to the relevant labor market; and the impact of the relief on the rights of third parties.
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 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.
Was the court order imposing interim one-black-for-one-white promotion requirement for state troopers if qualified black candidates are available proper?
The Court affirmed and held that the remedy fashioned by the district court served a compelling government interest, was narrowly tailored to serve its several purposes for initial promotions and as a continuing contingent order to the upper ranks, and was flexible, waivable, and temporary. The one-for-one requirement did not impose an unacceptable burden on innocent third parties, balanced individual and collective interests at stake, and did not bar advancement of white officers.