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United States v. Paradise

"narrowly Tailored" Requirement Found Acceptable

When the case came before the U.S. Supreme Court the decision of the court of appeals was upheld. A majority of five justices held that the district court's race-conscious relief order was justified by an absolute governmental interest in eliminating the ADPS's exclusion of the blacks from its police force. Further, justices held that because of the ADPS's consistent resistance to the court's orders, the district court's decision was supported by the public interest. The Court ruled the one-for-one promotional requirement was "narrowly tailored," made to serve the purpose of eliminating race discrimination, and was necessary for elimination of the effects of the ADPS's long-standing policy of exclusion of blacks in the upper ranks.

In determining whether the district court's anti-race discrimination remedy was appropriate, the Supreme Court examined and reviewed several aspects of that remedy. It was important to determine if there was a necessity for the remedy, whether it was adequate. Further, the Court needed to determine if the prescribed remedy was flexible in application and how long the remedy had to remain in effect.

The ADPS had initially proposed to promote four blacks and eleven whites. That option, the justices felt, would not have served the district court's purpose because it completely failed to provide quick remedy. Moreover, the ADPS delayed implementation of the court's order for several years. Accordingly, the justices held that the district court had no other alternative than the one-for-one remedy. Further, that remedy was flexible in application at all ranks. If there were no qualified candidates among blacks, the ADPS would also be permitted to promote only white applicants (but only if/when the ADPS had need to promote). Moreover, the district court's order continued in force only until the ADPS could come up with a solution which did not have a discriminatory impact on blacks.

In considering the relationship between the court-ordered numerical relief and the percentage of white and black ADPS personnel, the Supreme Court believed that they should not second-guess the lower court's carefully considered decision. That decision was designed to prevent any unfair impact that could occur from inflexible application. The original decrees dealing with discriminatory hiring practices, and also the decree regarding promotions, required the ADPS to hire/promote 50 percent of all black applicants until 25 percent of the police force was composed of the blacks, or 25 percent of each rank was populated by black officers. The "one-for-one" solution, the Court noted, did not impose an unacceptable burden on innocent third parties through layoffs or discharge of white employees. Simply, white candidates had to compete with qualified black candidates. Finally, finding the district court's order was "narrowly tailored," the Court chose to privilege judicial precedence which established the authority of federal courts to effect speedy redress. The justices noted that according to Louisiana v. United States (1965), the Court was obliged to provide a decree which would eliminate the effects of discrimination as soon as possible. Similarly, the majority opined that the Court's decision in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971) stipulated that when a violation was proven and existed for a lengthy period, a district court's powers were broad of necessity. In contrast, Justice O'Connor (writing for the minority) expressed concern that the district court ordered the promotion quota without considering any other available alternative that would have a lesser effect on the rights of non-minority police officers.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988United States v. Paradise - Significance, White Officers Intervene, "narrowly Tailored" Requirement Found Acceptable, Impact