Pers. Adm'r of Mass. v. Feeney

442 U.S. 256, 99 S. Ct. 2282 (1979)

 

RULE:

Discriminatory purpose implies more than intent as volition or intent as awareness of consequences. It implies that the decision maker, in this case a state legislature, selected or reaffirmed a particular course of action at least in part because of, not merely in spite of, its adverse effects upon an identifiable group.

FACTS:

Appellee was a female non-veteran who had lost several positions to male veterans despite her high test scores. She filed a claim against appellant, the State of Massachusetts, and twice argued successfully before the district court that Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 31, § 23, the veterans' hiring preference statute, violated the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIV by discriminating on the basis of sex.

ISSUE:

Did the Massachusetts Veterans Preference Statute, which grants an absolute lifetime preference to veterans, violate the equal protection clause for being discriminatory to female applicants?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

On appeal, the Court reversed. After a close examination of the statute, the Court found that although the result of the statute had a disproportionate impact on women, it had not been enacted in order to discriminate against women. The statute contained gender neutral language. Because the statute was gender-neutral on its face, the Court considered first whether the statutory classification was neutral and then whether the adverse effect reflected invidious gender-based discrimination. The statutory classification was neutral because it was intended to discriminate against non-veterans, not against women. Female veterans were entitled to its benefits. Moreover, the legislative purpose had not been to invidiously discriminate against women.

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