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Massachusetts Board of Retirement v. Murgia

Significance, Rationality Of Mandatory Retirement, Not The Best Means . . . But Rational Means, Impact


Massachusetts Board of Retirement, et al.


Robert D. Murgia

Appellant's Claim

The state of Massachusetts Board of Retirement believed their provision for mandatory retirement of police officers at age 50 was rationally related to the interest of protecting the public and therefore did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Terence P. O'Malley

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Robert D. City

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White (unsigned)

Justices Dissenting

Thurgood Marshall (John Paul Stevens did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

25 June 1976


There was no violation of the Equal Protection Clause: the state of Massachusetts' mandatory retirement provision rationally furthered its purpose of protecting the public by assuring physical fitness of the state police officers.

Related Cases

  • Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969).
  • Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471 (1970).
  • San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973).
  • McIlvaine v. Pennsylvania, 415 U.S. 986 (1974).
  • Cannon v. Guste, 423 U.S. 918 (1975).
  • Weisbrod v. Lynn, 420 U.S. 940 (1975).


"Supreme Court Raises Barrier to Forced Retirement Rules." Criminal Justice Newsletter, July 15, 1985, pp. 1-2.

Further Readings

  • Jackson, Vicki C. "Coeur d'Alene, Federal Courts and the Supremacy of Federal Law." Constitutional Commentary, summer 1998, p. 301.
  • Tushnet, Mark V. "Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr.: A Biography." Michigan Law Review, May 1995, p. 1854.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980