Home » LAW » Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney 1979 

Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney 1979 

Baer & Goldstein, pp. 128-134.

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Syllabus w/headnotes

During her 12-year tenure as a state employee, appellee, who is not a veteran, had passed a number of open competitive civil service examinations for better jobs, but because of Massachusetts’ veterans’ preference statute, she was ranked in each instance below male veterans who had achieved lower test scores than appellee. Under the statute, all veterans who qualify for state civil service positions must be considered for appointment ahead of any qualifying nonveterans. The statutory preference, which is available to “any person, male or female, including a nurse,” who was honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces after at least 90 days of active service, at least one day of which was during “wartime,” operates overwhelmingly to the advantage of males. Appellee brought an action in Federal District Court, alleging that the absolute-preference formula established in the Massachusetts statute inevitably operates to exclude women from consideration for the best state civil service jobs and thus discriminates against women in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A three-judge court declared the statute unconstitutional and enjoined its operation, finding that while the goals of the preference were legitimate and the statute had not been enacted for the purpose of discriminating against women, the exclusionary impact upon women was so severe as to require the State to further its goals through a more limited form of preference. On an earlier appeal, this Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case for further consideration in light of the intervening decision in Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 96 S.Ct. 2040, 48 L.Ed.2d 597, which held that a neutral law does not violate the Equal Protection Clause solely because it results in a racially disproportionate impact and that, instead, the disproportionate impact must be traced to a purpose to discriminate on the basis of race. Upon remand, the District Court reaffirmed its original judgment, concluding that a veterans’ hiring preference is inherently nonneutral because it favors a class from which women have traditionally been excluded, and that the consequences of the Massachusetts absolute-preference formula for the employment opportunities of women were too inevitable to have been “unintended.”

Held: Massachusetts, in granting an absolute lifetime preference to veterans, has not discriminated against women in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 271-281.

(a) Classifications based upon gender must bear a close and substantial relationship to important governmental objectives. Although public employment is not a constitutional right and the States have wide discretion in framing employee qualifications, any state law overtly or covertly designed to prefer males over females in public employment would require an exceedingly persuasive justification to withstand a constitutional challenge under the Equal Protection Clause. Pp. 271-273.

(b) When a statute gender-neutral on its face is challenged on the ground that its effects upon women are disproportionably adverse, a twofold inquiry is appropriate. The first question is whether the statutory classification is indeed neutral in the sense that it is not gender-based. If the classification itself, covert or overt, is not based upon gender, the second question is whether the adverse effect reflects invidious gender-based discrimination. Pp.273-274.

(c) Here, the appellee’s concession and the District Court’s finding that the Massachusetts statute is not a pretext for gender discrimination are clearly correct. Apart from the facts that the definition of “veterans” in the statute has always been neutral as to gender and that Massachusetts has consistently defined veteran status in a way that has been inclusive of women who have served in the military, this is not a law that can plausibly, or even rationally, be explained only as a gender-based classification. Significant numbers of nonveterans are men, and all nonveterans–male as well as female—are placed at a disadvantage. The distinction made by the Massachusetts statute is, as it seems to be, quite simply between veterans and nonveterans, not between men and women. Pp. 274-275

(d) Appellee’s contention that this veterans’ preference is “inherently nonneutral” or “gender-biased” in the sense that it favors a status reserved under federal military policy primarily to men is wholly at odds with the District Court’s central finding that Massachusetts has not offered a preference to veterans for the purpose of discriminating against women; nor can it be reconciled with the assumption made by both the appellee and the District Court that a more limited hiring preference for veterans could be sustained, since the degree of the preference makes no constitutional difference. Pp. 276-278.

(e) While it would be disingenuous to say that the adverse consequences of this legislation for women were unintended, in the sense that they were not volitional or in the sense that they were not foreseeable, nevertheless “discriminatory purpose” implies more than intent as volition or intent as awareness of consequences; it implies that the decision maker 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. When the totality of legislative actions establishing and extending the Massachusetts veterans’ preference are considered, the law remains what it purports to be: a preference for veterans of either sex over nonveterans of either sex, not for men over women. Pp. 278-280.

(f) Although absolute and permanent preferences have always been subject to the objection that they give the veteran more than a square deal, the Fourteenth Amendment “cannot be made a refuge from ill-advised . . . laws.” District of Columbia v. Brooke, 214 U.S. 138, 150, 29 S.Ct. 560, 563, 53 L.Ed. 941. The substantial edge granted to veterans by the Massachusetts statute may reflect unwise policy, but appellee has simply failed to demonstrate that the law in any way reflects a purpose to discriminate on the basis of sex. Pp. 280-281.

D.C., 451 F.Supp. 143, reversed and remanded.


15 Comments

  1. It’s important to point out that this case did not exclusively discriminate against women. While the case itself involves a woman, the court’s decision made it an issue of veteran vs non-veteran status. Men who were not in the military were also disadvantaged. While most veterans are male, veterans were not exclusively male and female individuals could also serve.

  2. This ruling is an example of the issue of equality v. equity. The Court was more so interested in enforcing equality by arguing that the law was facially neutral and was a question between non-veterans and veterans, and not between men and women. I find it difficult to argue against the ruling of the case since there are simply more male veterans than female veterans. There would have to be proof that there was the actual intent of discrimination against Feeny’s score because of her gender. That is what I believe would need to be proven for this case to have been ruled differently.

  3. Massachusetts’ veterans’ preference statute prioritized veterans for civil service positions, despite them possibly being less qualified than other non-veteran applicants. Appellee, Feeney, claimed that this statute violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court ruled that the statute did not violate the Clause since there was a distinction made between veterans and nonveterans, not women and men. I think the the image shown at the bottom is a good representation of this ruling as the court failed to acknowledge that while the distinction was not based on sex, men were the ones who had priority and more advantages than women in serving in the military and being able to meet the qualifications of a veteran since men were preferred to women when it came to combat.

  4. I do think that even though women were less likely to be veterans, it wasn’t discriminatory, because there are also a large number of men that were also not veterans. While it may be an unintended by-product (I don’t think it was intentional) for a way to reward people for their service to this country and their will to serve the public again in a state government job.

    A hypothetical that came to my mind was if there was an additional requirement for the veteran to have served in active combat. Given the time period, this would definitely discriminate against the vast majority of women veterans who weren’t allowed into combat positions. I think that would have a stronger argument against based on gender.

  5.  On the one hand, I agree with the court’s decision because both civilian men and women face a disadvantage while competing for a civil service position alongside veterans. Especially given that veterans must still perform well on a test in order for their status as a veteran to be highlighted. On the other hand, men outnumber women in the military, and the court’s decision appears to be neutral on the surface without actually taking into consideration that women are a minority in this specific situation and therefore are at a disadvantage of obtaining a position even if their scores are higher. 

  6. The courts found that this statute didn’t actually violate the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment as accused by Feeney. The reasoning is because the distinction that was made within this statute wasn’t actually on gender, but actually about veterans. And since this would exclude males who weren’t veterans, the argument of gender discrimination isn’t valid. The intent of this statute wasn’t on gender which is why this statute doesn’t violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

  7. Because the law did not overtly discriminate against women, the Court ruled that the intention was not to discriminate. Of course, this ruling involves a very strict reading of the law and doesn’t necessarily factor in other variables, such as the fact that institutional discrimination has led to so few women being veterans in the first place.

  8. The statute was intended to fulfill “legitimate and noble ends,” not to discriminate on the basis of gender, according to the Court. Despite the fact that the system benefited few women, Justice Stewart argued that “veteran status is not particularly male.” Furthermore, many men who were not veterans were also disadvantaged by the law. The statute clearly distinguished between veterans and non-veterans, not between men and women.

  9. I understand why the court decided to uphold this law because it did not outright discriminate against women. The law did so discretely because the military disproportionately produced more male veterans than female ones so the law that placed all veterans, no matter gender, over other applicants is not technically discriminatory against women because it did not exclude female veterans. The law’s seemingly unintentional discrimination against women could not be remedied by the court because the discrimination could not have been proven by the appellee.

  10. I can understand the ruling of this case but I do still think it is a form of gender discrimination. Women were not as likely to serve in the military due to the draft only including men. I believe the law was written with this in mind but because the law does not strictly say there is gender discrimination, the law can pass at being non-discriminatory. The only explicit distinctions made in this law were between veterans and non-veterans.

  11. Mohammed Alzweiy7:16 AM May 10
    This is a facially neutral form of discrimination and its really interesting to observe how so many laws and rules that most of us wouldnt think twice about have an affect and discriminate against an entire sex of people.
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    Desiree Estrada
    Desiree Estrada2:55 AM Mar 16
    The court ruled it was not in violation of the equal protection clause. The vote was 7-2 & despite the ruling not being a gender based decision and a transitions for veteran into civil service. The fact that can not be ignored is the number of woman who were potentially overlooked due to this court decision.
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    Catherine Ortega
    Catherine Ortega10:59 AM Mar 4
    The Court decides that the intent of the law was not to discriminate against women, and though it does affect women negatively it’s a necessary byproduct of giving veterans opportunities. It’s a tricky one because of course we would want there to be opportunities present for veterans, it would just be preferred that it wasn’t at the expense of a whole class of people… There is no easy answer for this one.
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    Nick Jones
    Nick Jones9:34 PM Mar 3
    In this case, Massachusetts law gave preference in applying to civil service positions to veterans (specifically those honorably discharged). Despite women may having higher test scores on these exams, these veterans were able to still get these civil service positions. Less than 2% of women in Massachusetts were veterans at this time. Because of this situation, me get the more established and responsible positions, while women get the secretarial work.
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    Zuzanna Kubiszewska
    Zuzanna Kubiszewska8:42 PM Mar 2
    I think that reading the dissenting opinion was the most important part of this case because it articulated what I thought was lost throughout all of the facts of the case for me. I think that seeing the gender argument of Justice Brennan was able to create a better understanding for me of the gender based argument. We touched on this in class but the face-value of laws might work towards a different initiative and I could see that in the end. I think that the promise of greater employment opportunities for men is apparent within hiring practices even to this day, so it’s sad to see a woman who pursued a career within civil service be denied an opportunity. It’s sad to see any woman be denied of that regardless of what she dedicated her life to
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    Haneen Abdelhafez
    Haneen Abdelhafez8:10 PM Mar 2
    In this case, the court ruled that a state does not discriminate against women by establishing an employment preference for veterans. I do not agree with the Court in stating that the classification itself is not gender based, because the statutory preference overwhelmingly favors men. There is evident proof of discrimination.
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    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    “is not gender based, because the statutory preference overwhelmingly favors men. There is evident proof of discrimination.” Remind me to ask you in class, “where is the inculpatory evidence?”
    1:19 PM Mar 3 (edited 1:19 PM Mar 3)•Edit•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Yoli Esparza
    Yoli Esparza9:42 AM Mar 2
    The statute was enacted to fulfill “justifiable purposes” not to discriminate on the grounds of gender, according to the Court. Despite the fact that only a few women benefited from the service. However many men who were not veterans were still disadvantaged by the statute.
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    Drew Fowler
    Drew Fowler9:42 AM Mar 2
    In this case, the court stated that the Massachusetts law that give preference to honorably discharged veterans does not violate the Equal Protection clause. This is because the law was enacted to serve a “legitimate and worthy purpose” getting honorable veterans jobs.
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    Ariana Lopez
    Ariana Lopez9:09 AM Mar 2
    I anticipated the disagreement amongst the judges as well as the ruling of 7-2. I also find it amusing that when diving into legislation/regulation that is brought to light upon having a base that discriminates women, the court always finds it necessary to clarify that “the legislature did not specifically intend to exclude women,” but rather its preference was a just “limited.”
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    Daniela Guerrero Rodriguez
    Daniela Guerrero Rodriguez8:51 AM Mar 2
    The court stated that the veterans preference law did was not discriminatory on the basis of gender because the terms of the veterans preference law
    where gender-neutral. They also noted that the discrimination was between non-veterans and veterans, not males and females. I think the court lacks an understanding of how systematic gender discrimination is, although it doesn’t specifically differentiate men and women, the law can still lead to inequality.
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    Daniela Guerrero Rodriguez
    Daniela Guerrero Rodriguez
    Also, is this the first time that he concept of gender-neutral appeared in court?
    8:56 AM Mar 2•Delete
    Zuzanna Kubiszewska
    Zuzanna Kubiszewska
    I think so? Or at least it is a term that has yet to be discussed in class
    8:42 PM Mar 2•Delete
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    I think I have probably used the term “facially-neutral” rather than “gender-neutral” during class. I use them interchangeably.
    1:14 PM Mar 3•Edit•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Ben Lee
    Ben Lee6:57 AM Mar 2
    The court found that the law lacked discrimatory intent. Though the policy lead to women being generally disadvantaged in rankings, that was an unintended secondary effect to the laws primary purpose: giving preference to veterans. The court affirmed that legislatures may give preference to veterans.
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    Krystal Garcia Centeno
    Krystal Garcia Centeno10:48 PM Mar 1
    Justice Stewart argued that “veteran status is not uniquely male.” and that the law placed many men who were not veterans at a disadvantage as well. So the Court’s argument was really between veterans and nonveterans, not between men and women. Isn’t that still discriminatory, though?
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    Jocelyn Rodriguez
    Jocelyn Rodriguez10:00 PM Mar 1
    I agree with the dissent opinion per Marshall in terms of the law is not neutral, that just because the law was meant to provide an advantage to one group, it still stands that it could cost imposing a disadvantage onto another group, and that it should be up to the state to to prove that the law is not discriminatory not up to Feeney to prove it is
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    Matt Springer
    Matt Springer9:23 PM Mar 1
    In Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney, A MA law gave hiring preference to honorably discharged veterans applying for state civil service positions. Feeney, a woman who scored high on certain competitive civil service examinations, was ranked below male veterans who had lower scores. The CQ of the case is did the law discriminate against women and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? The Court in a seven to two vote said n o. The Court held that the law was enacted to serve “legitimate and worthy purposes” and not to discriminate on the basis of sex
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    Jeff Gemini
    Jeff Gemini9:08 PM Mar 1
    It is important to have a place for veterans when they come back but mostly all veterans are men so this whether the law was intended to affect women or now is irrelevant because it does negatively affect them. It might not be an overtly discriminatory law but it still hurts women at finding a job.
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    Arnold Brown
    Arnold Brown9:03 PM Mar 1
    The court declared the law constitutional believing the law to have gender natural language. I agree with the argument that a veterans’ hiring preference is nonneutral because it favors a class were women have traditionally been excluded.
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    Denice Bernal
    Denice Bernal8:42 PM Mar 1
    When reading this case I began to think back to the case of Schlesinger v Ballard. Both cases debate statues put in place which affect men and women differently within the different branches of the military. This first case presumably discriminated against men in the Navy while this statue indicates discrimination to women who are applying for these jobs. I also noticed that Justice Marshall and Justice Brenan appear in the dissent of both of these cases. I find the opinion of the dissent in this case candid and refreshing. This is due to the fact that this case showed how purposefully providing advantage to one group was purposefully disadvantaging another. Although that was not the “intent” of the statue- the lack of direct wording did not take away the implications of the statue.
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    Anastasia Pogrebchtchikov
    Anastasia Pogrebchtchikov8:29 PM Mar 1
    I am not surprised that the court ruled 7-2 on this case considering that women had techincally been allowed in the military for about 30 years at this point. However, men have had more experince and oppurtunities in the military at this point in time. On the other hand, I do understand that these laws were in place to help veterans and thank them for their service.
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    Emma Floyd
    Emma Floyd7:45 PM Mar 1
    What was interesting to me about this case was that the justices disagreed as to who the burden of proof should fall on. The majority felt the burden should fall on Feeney, the plaintiff. The dissenters, Marshall and Brennan, felt that the burden should be placed on the defendant, the state. I found this so interesting because it seems like who the burden of proof falls on can really change the outcome of a case.
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    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    Hi Emma, connect the “burden of proof” issue to the two tests (rationality and strict scrutiny)
    7:58 PM Mar 1•Edit•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Marina Pascual
    Marina Pascual7:37 PM Mar 1
    I think that the decisions made in this case and in the Village of Arlington Heights vs Metropolitan Housing Development Corp. which established the precedent, are disappointing and made it much easier for the state to discriminate against federally protected classes. Justice Marshall, in his dissenting opinion, argues that Massachusetts’ legislative history proves that the state has created a gender-based hierarchy in civil service positions, with women at the bottom in ‘low-grade’ positions and men at the top with more ‘respectable jobs’. Legislative history is extremely important and can demonstrate an overall, systematic discrimination issue that cannot be easily shown with one statute. It is frustrating that Justice Stewart’s majority opinion ignored this argument.
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    Mayra Villa
    Mayra Villa7:28 PM Mar 1
    The 7-2 ruling is interesting because this case can definitely be viewed as gender discrimination, but the majority ruled otherwise. Only men were allowed to serve in the military up until women were also allowed but because it took years for that to happen, there’s obviously going to be a larger male population which explains the “less than 2% of the women in Massachusetts are veterans” in Justice Marshall’s dissent. Even though the Court ruled that Feeney had failed to demonstrate how the Massachusetts law discriminates on the basis of gender, it still put both women and male non-veterans at a disadvantage.
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    Tina Tran
    Tina Tran6:44 PM Mar 1
    The dissent per Marshall demonstrates what we have all been analyzing, he explains how preference is given to “veterans”; however, less than 2% of women in Massachusetts are veterans. Thus this statute is not a neutral application. This case wasn’t not evaluated under strict scrutiny. I wonder if the ruling would be different if it were.
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    Jyah Vora
    Jyah Vora5:55 PM Mar 1
    Although this may not be a clear-cut gender-discrimination case for the Supreme Court, I see it as such. Up until 1948, women were not allowed to serve in the military which is why we see more men than women in the military. This statute was also written in regards to benefitting men who may find it hard to transition into civilian life or need a job to provide financially for their family.
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    Donny Situ
    Donny Situ2:41 PM Mar 1
    It can be argued that this is not gender discrimination in that women are not prohibited from serving in the military (and thus benefiting from the Mass. law hiring process all the same). The state law itself does not mention gender nor was it interpreted by the Supreme Court to have the intent to discriminate, which gives grounds for the S.C. to overturn the lower courts decisions and uphold the law. Interesting to see the arguments by the opinion of the court and the dissenting, which seems heavily based on the intent of the legislators/law and the peripherals of how it negatively affects women regardless.
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    Nicole Solayman
    Nicole Solayman12:46 PM Mar 1
    I’m not sure how to feel about this case. On one hand, I agree with the court’s ruling, as both civilian men and women are at a disadvanatge when competing with veterans for a civil service job. Especially when considering that the veterans still have to score high on an exam in order for their status as a veteran to be prioritized. On the other hand, there are significantly more men in the military than there are women, and the court’s ruling seems to be facially neutral.
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    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    Why are “there are significantly more men in the military than there are women?” And, does it matter? See Tina Tran above, 6:44 today
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    Kevin Lyles
    Cassidy McLernon
    Cassidy McLernon10:13 AM Mar 1
    I am conflicted with this case. I do agree that it is good that veterans are preferred over others, but I also recognize that there are more male veterans than female veterans. This Massachusetts law gives way for more men to be considered over women, so it is discriminatory. Feeney should have been ranked higher considering her exam scores were higher than most of the other people, but because she was not a veteran her rank was lower.
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    Annmarie Gobin
    Annmarie Gobin9:17 AM Mar 1
    I find this law interesting because it was not direct that there was discrimmination against women since women and men can take this test but there is an inherent form of discrimmination which I think is more prevelent today compared to laws dicrimminating on the basis of sex.
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    Grace Castillo Rojo Moreno
    Grace Castillo Rojo Moreno2:37 AM Mar 1
    Last week we talked about how women did not have the same opportunities as men in the navy, this case correlates with the case of last week, Schlesinger v. Ballard 1975. They knew that benefiting veterans was going to be discriminative because mainly it is conformed by men.
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    Rama Izar
    Rama Izar11:15 PM Feb 26
    Since most veterans at this time were male, I could see why the law was looked at under a gender discrimination lens. Even though the Court found that it wasn’t a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, I’m surprised that it wasn’t a tight decision. I agree with Justice Marshall’s dissent and it’s weird to me that the Court didn’t look at how the law was discriminatory overall towards both female AND male non-veterans.
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    Xiomara Martinez
    Xiomara Martinez10:51 PM Feb 26
    I think this case was unfair. Although, I do agree that it is good that veterans get preferred over anyone else, it does discriminate against women because there is a higher amount of male veterans compared to women. This means that no matter what, more men will be given preference rather than women.
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    Ana Al Saad
    Ana Al Saad11:45 AM Feb 26
    I thought it was interesting that in Washington v. Davis (1976), the Court established a firm rule that states if a law looks neutral on the surface, but “had a racially disparate impact, the Court would treat it as racial discrimination only if the challenges to the law could prove that some racial discrimination had been intentional.” This meant the Court can apply strict scrutiny. In the case of Personal Administrator v. Feeney, the Court applied a similar test and seven judges found that there wasn’t any intentional discrimination because the statute is between nonveterans and veterans not men and women.
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    Jacqueline Harmon
    Jacqueline HarmonFeb 25, 2021
    I do see this case as gender discriminatory because women are not as likely to hold veteran status as men, considering that being a veteran means you served a long time ago, women were much less likely to serve the further back in time you go .
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    Gaby Ramirez
    Gaby RamirezFeb 25, 2021
    Initially looking at this case, yes giving preference to veterans is great, but it is known that most people who are veterans are men. I do however, feel they should have given her a chance at the position since her scores rose above most other applicants. This law indirectly discriminated against women, I would say.
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    Brianna Moling
    Brianna MolingFeb 24, 2021
    In this case, Feeney, a women, scored high on competitive civil service exams yet was ranked below male veterans who had lower scores. This was because of a Massachusetts law that gave preference to honorable discharged veterans applying for the positions. The Court ruled that this law was not discriminatory towards women, reasoning that women could also hold veteran status. Although the Court says this is a matter of veteran status, I think it is gender discriminatory since men are more likely to be veterans and therefore they are given preference over women who scored better.
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    Malak Kanan
    Malak KananMay 7, 2020
    The preference formula inevitably operates to exclude women from consideration for the best civil service jobs by giving hiring preferences to veterans. Women are excluded from serving because men are believed to be more eligible to go to war, so veteran state is uniquely male.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userApr 24, 2020
    I believe that it is not right for honorably discharged veterans to receive “extra points” when applying to civil service jobs since many of them were probably drafted. Not only did many of them have no choice but to join the military but women cant even be drafted which gives them a far less chance of getting these “extra points”
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userApr 7, 2020
    Facially neutral but veterans were still primarily male but the court does make the distinction that veterans could be either men or women. The point that made it for me was the distinction that non-veteran males would “discriminated” against as well in this case.
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    Alexis Rodriguez
    Alexis RodriguezApr 1, 2020
    The statute was not being “gender discriminatory” is correct to an extent. It did indirectly affect the women because few of them were in the military during this time.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 9, 2020
    I don’t think the court’s decision is fair because “affirmative action” (which is essentially what is going on here) is meant to give marginalized groups a chance to be admitted into spaces where historically speaking, they’ve never been a part of. Veterans are not necessarily a marginalized group, therefore by giving them preference (most of them are men), the disparity between males and females is enlarged. I understand unfairness does not equal unconstitutionality, but I do think it’s possible to find a way to deem this case unconstitutional.
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    Elizabeth Peralta
    Elizabeth PeraltaMar 5, 2020
    group 6 brief
    Facts: Helen Feeny had been competing for civil service jobs for 12 years by taking the appropriate civil service tests in Massachusetts. For each job, the top three candidates would be eligible for the job and Massachusetts law gave preference to veterans for civil service employment, though Feeny was not a veteran. Feeny scored well on her civil service exams as she was the second or third highest score in the state, but she was outranked by numerous veterans as the law stated that a veteran who passed the exam would be ranked above non-veterans. After being ranked below veterans numerous times, feeny would file a suit in the Federal District Court in 1975. Feeny won declaration of unconstitutionality though the case would be sent back to the district level by the supreme court for reconsideration after the facial neutrality rule was established in Washington V Davis. After the district court upheld its decision the Supreme Court would take the case.
    Issue: Does the facially neutral Massachusetts law that gives hiring preference to veterans in civil service positions constitute a level of gender discrimination that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14 th Amendment?
    Holding: No, 7-2. Judgement was reversed
    Reasoning: Justice Stewart/ Veterans hiring preference in Massachusetts has been justified as a measure to reward veterans for their service and to ease the transition from military to civilian life, encourage patriotic service, and to attract loyal and well-disciplined people to the civil service. The law was enacted with “legitimate and worthy purposes” and discriminates on te basis of sex for both genders, not just women.
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    Jessica Myles
    Jessica MylesMar 4, 2020
    This is an “unwise” statute. I believe that it was not written to discriminate against women, but we must examine the actual affects of the statute. I would say that this legislation is overtly gender-based. Veterans are primarily men, so this law is direct to help men. It does not specifically address gender, but that does not mean we ignore the underline narrative.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 3, 2020
    Though it seems like this law and ruling doesn’t discriminate against gender, there were many more men who were veterans. I think promoting programs for veterans is great but in this case the law may have indirectly discriminated against women.
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    Elsi Ramos
    Elsi RamosMar 3, 2020
    To come to the conclusion that the veterans preference law did not discriminate against gender is not surprising. I guess if you base the law on facts, yes veterans can be both men and women, but when you look at the actual numbers of men and women who are veterans, it’s clear that this law and those behind it knew who the law would benefit and who it would discriminate against, which in this case was women.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 2, 2020
    The ruling in this case determined that a statue giving preference to veterans over non-veterans for civil service jobs was deemed constitutional and not violating the 14th Amd. EPC. The term “veterans” was called “gender-neutral” in the ruling, despite society and the dissenting judges being aware that a majority of veterans are male. The law that gave advantage to veterans, on its face, gave advantage to men and disadvantaged women in action. The dissenting opinion noted that less than 2% of veterans are women. The law offers a majority of civil service jobs to men more than women and leaves women with more clerical or secretarial jobs. This is just one example of how sexism and discrimination is embedded into laws, not on their face. I was shocked that the initial rulings found the law’s “exclusionary impact upon women was so severe as to require the State to further its goals through a more limited form of preference.”
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    Deidre Mensah
    Deidre MensahMar 2, 2020
    This statute was said to be nondiscriminatory on the basis of sex, but rather it was between veteran and non-veterans. I feel like even if it might not have been purposely set up to discriminate against women, as the court said, it ended up being that way because of that one particular sex that checks the veterans box.
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    Brittany Tamayo
    Brittany TamayoMar 2, 2020
    This is an interesting case because the decision was that this was between veterans and non-veterans, but at the time, there were probably substantially more male veterans than female veterans.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 2, 2020
    The decision upheld the constitutionality of a state law, giving hiring preference to veterans over nonveterans. : The law creates a gender based civil service hierarchy
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 2, 2020
    The court says the distinction in the law is clearly between veterans and non veterans, but I would argue that was the courts clever way of making a distinction between male and female.
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    Liliana Diaz
    Liliana DiazMar 2, 2020
    After reading this case at first I sort of understood the Court’s “legitimate and worthy” explanation about the Mass. statue, it made sense that they would give veterans preference because of their sacrifice. However, the more I thought about the Court saying that this was a case between veterans and nonveterans and not men and women the more it bothered me. It is true that the case was about veterans and nonveterans, but this case was argued in 1979 — so while it may have not been about gender directly the vast majority if not all veterans at the time were men so the “veteran vs. nonveteran” issue was just a way of disguising sex based discrimination.
    Reply
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    Marissa Scavelli
    Marissa ScavelliMar 1, 2020
    In this case, the Massachussetts statute at issue was not violative of the 14th Amendment Equal Protection clause because it did not discriminate on the basis of sex, rather it distingued between veterans and non veterans. The Court held that the law cannot be plausibly nor rationally explained as a gender based classification because a large amount of non veterans are men too, so this law did not just discriminate against women and therefore both non-veteran genders are placed at a disadvantage from the statute at issue. The fact that veterans were predominantly male in 1979 was not considered in the opinion because the term veteran is gender neutral and did not exclude women.
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    Kiera Gnatz
    Kiera GnatzMar 1, 2020
    Saying “veteran status isn’t uniquely male” irks me – with that rationale, they could have claimed that in Goesaert v. Clearly, that being a bartender isn’t “uniquely male” because there were certain instances in which women were allowed to bartend.This ruling wholly ignores the discrimination qualified women receive en masse (in a greater amount than men).
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 29, 2020
    Per Justice Stewart, he stated that the “hiring perseverance given to veterans in civil service in Massachusetts has traditionally been to reward veterans for their sacrifice, tease the transition between military and civilian life, promote patriotic service and to draw the most loyal and well-disciplined people to civil service occupation.” The court stated that the law did not preference men over women at all, it was veterans above civilian men and women. I have mix feelings on this case, because I think this case does discriminate on the basis of sex. At the same time a lot of our veterans did not receive many of the promise benefits when they enlisted in the services.
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    Jose Perez
    Jose PerezFeb 28, 2020
    The law gave preference to veterans whether they were male or female and even extended the preference to nurses who served in the military. Just because few women benefitted does not mean it was a law meant to discriminate against women. The courts held that the law gave preference to veterans over non veterans not to men over women. I guess the fact that more men were veterans was just a formality.
    Reply
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    Sylvia Waz
    Sylvia WazFeb 28, 2020
    This case reminds me of Degreffenreid v. General Motors. In this case, five black women sued General Motors over a seniority rule that discriminated against black women. They felt it was discriminatory because black women were not allowed to work at the factory at the time the people who were considered seniors in the company. They could not have seniority because they were excluded from working there. The court found this top not be discrimination. This is similar to the Feeney because many women were excluded from the military in the past. At the time, some positions in the military were only reserved for men and I think that all positions were open to men. This limited women’s inclusion in the military and, although the law is “facially neutral” it is still discriminatory because it is well known that more men serve than women and that women were not allowed in all positions in the military.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 6, 2019
    Discriminatory Impact and Intent under the Equal Protection Clause: The Supreme Court and the Mind-Body Problem

    “Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney (1979) was the first sex discrimination case under the equal protection clause to turn squarely on the issue of the discriminatory impact of a facially neutral statute.’ There, the U.S. Supreme Court considered a challenge to Massachusetts’ absolute veterans’ preference for state civil service positions. Previously, the Court had held that, absent the use of an explicit racial category, discriminatory purpose or intent must be proved in race discrimination claims under the equal protection clause.’ Further, discriminatory impact alone was not sufficient to invoke heightened scrutiny, the stricter constitutional test that a facially neutral classification can invoke. However, the Court said that discriminatory impact can be an important element in proving discriminatory intent. I Justice Stevens, concurring in Washington v. Davis, had suggested that the tort rule which presumes a person to intend the natural, probable and foreseeable consequences of his or her actions is relevant to the determination of discriminatory intent under the equal protection clause.”

    https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1276&context=lawineq
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 5, 2019
    Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeny
    442 US 256 (1979)
    Facts: A Massachusetts state law gave veterans an advantage over non veterans when they applied for a civil services position. This was in addition to a written test that would serve as the measure to determine whether the employee should be hired. This hurt Feeney, a longtime civil servant who despite scores high enough to be considered for the job was consistently ranked beneath men who had scored less but served in the military.
    Question: Was the Equal Protections Clause of the 14th Amendment violated?
    Holding: 7-2, It was not a violation.
    Reasoning: Veteran was not a uniquely male term and was not discriminatory to women as men were also disadvantaged.
    Dissent: The law creates a gender based civil service hierarchy according to Marshall.
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 5, 2019
    I would be very interested to see the job acquisition rates for civil service employment among non-veteran men and women, but as the statute stands, I don’t think this is an issue of gender discrimination and agree with the court.
    Reply
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    i disagree, hopefully we can discuss in class
    Mar 5, 2019•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Ines Josefina Castaneda
    Ines Josefina CastanedaMar 4, 2019
    This case was had a hearsay in the eyes of the court because there was no direct evidence that the appellant made which is why the court and massachusetts reasoned that this was between veterans and non veterans not gender.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 4, 2019
    The significance of this case is that the Court defined veteran status is “not uniquely male. This shows us the discrimination that existed in the armed forces towards women since at the time, most veterans were male.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted user
    I think what remains a bit confusing about this case, for me, is that if there is a veteran program which ranks vets in a higher position as a reward for their service, she didn’t really have a case to begin with. If the majority of people enlisted in the US army are men, then that’s just going to be an issue of proportionality. Additionally, male nonveterans are also going to be put below the veterans.
    Mar 5, 2019•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 3, 2019
    Under the rule established by the Washington v Davis case, this MA law was not discriminatory against women intentionally since the preference was available to “any person, male or female, including a nurse,” , and I agree with the court due to the fact that in a sense the MA preference law was never intentional against women since more veterans at the time were male and that was not intentional based on this law but by women only making up the time I believe according to Baer Goldstein at 2 % of the armed forces, therefore it was not the law but the armed forces itself that were intentionally discriminateing against women
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 5, 2018
    the law aimed to help veterans, male and female.even though the law would benefit more men than women, it isnt discriminatory on its own.
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 5, 2018
    On the surface, the law is not discriminatory; however, the amount of veterans are disproportionate by gender. There are more veterans that are men, so the statute does benefit men more than women.
    Reply
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    therefore, since you agree that the “statute benefits men more than women,” isn’t that proof of de jure discrimination?
    Jan 13, 2019•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 4, 2018
    On my initial reading of the majority opinion, I had thought that the court made the right decision because I believed the discriminatory aspect of this hiring practice was merely a reflection of the discriminatory practices of the military, and that the military selection process was what needed to be challenged. My opinion changed upon reading Justice Thurgood Marshall’s dissent. The statue is facially neutral, but the historical disparity between men and women concerning opportunities to serve in the military creates a situation where the disparate effect of the preference for veterans in hiring policies serves as a gender-based discrimination. Since this statute is indeed discriminatory in effect, it should be held to the Strict Scrutiny test. Justice Marshall then dismantles the three interests put forward by the state to justify the statute and shows them to be less than compelling. 1) Assisting veterans in their adjustment to civilian life [the hiring preference was given to veterans regardless of their discharge date]. 2) Encouraging military service [benefits were retroactively given to veterans of past wars]. 3) Rewarding benefits [“Here, there are a wide variety of less discriminatory means by which Massachusetts could effect its compensatory purposes. For example, a point preference system, such as that maintained by many States and the Federal Government”]
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 6, 2017
    While it is true that women veterans were ranked above others as well during the hiring process, they accounted for less than 2% of the veteran population. This means more men were being given preferable treatment, along with possible evidence for discrimination in the military, as the amount of women able to enter the military was restricted. If the number of women is being restricted, then the number of women receiving certain jobs is being restricted as well.
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userMar 1, 2017
    I don’t think the statue was discriminating against women. I believe that our military service requirement system is discriminatory. All citizens should be enrolling for selective service not just males.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 27, 2017
    Just a minor note regarding the sign “workers ahead” but the other day I was walking to the train to get to school and I saw a sign that said “men at work” and I never would have given it a second thought had I not been taking this class and realized how much these things still go on. I even asked myself, “why doesn’t it say workers ahead?”
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 29, 2016
    Although I do agree that veterans should receive additional benefits, I can’t agree with the decision. Having absolute preference is absurd. A non veteran can easily be more qualified for a position, and it seems unfair to deny them the job because a less qualified veteran is being given the position. Giving Veterans an additional set amount of points on exam seems more fair.
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 29, 2016
    The majority opinion on this case makes sense to me. The law discriminates more so against nonveterans in general as opposed to women specifically. The idea of giving preferential treatment to someone because they are a veteran is sort of a complicated issue in my opinion. There are questions that need to be addressed. Were they drafted or did they enlist on their own terms? Does their military experience have a useful translation into the position they are applying to? Etc. A test (such as the one in this case) is not the only thing that determines whether or not someone is the right candidate for the job. As college students we know first hand that relative work experience is often times more important than ones grades when it comes to getting a job. Many people in the military acquire very useful skills that make them great candidates for many civil service jobs. For all we know this could be a simple case where the majority of ideal candidates come from the military because of their relative experiences, not because of the fact they are a veteran.

    I do definitely agree though that holding everything equal (test scores, experience, etc), veterans should not have preferential treatment over anyone else for the sole reason that they are a veteran.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 25, 2016
    Although I see the logic and reasoning of this state law preference, I still find it unfair because it is still discriminating against nonveterans regardless of being men or women.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 23, 2015
    This is a great example of affirmative action, which America seems fine with. But this is also a great example of De Facto discrimination especially during this time as the Vietnam War had ended 4 year(and only men were drafted) when this decision had been made. Also great Brief Tom. Thanks for uploading it

    Pedro Ramirez
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 23, 2015
    The state law giving preference to veterans over nonveterans is certainly unfair because it is inherently discriminatory to a whole community of people. It doesn’t only discriminate agaisnt women but also agaisnt men that are not veterans. A better option to benefit veterans without creating controversy would be to select the veteran from two people with the SAME score.
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 23, 2015
    I definitely agree with Christine that “De Facto discrimination is not necessarily unconstitutional” as it is very hard to prove because there are no actual writings in the veterans preference statue that says that women cannot be accepted into a better state employee position. It just saw happened that more men are veterans, and they cannot help that.
    Reply
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    please ask me about this in class
    Feb 23, 2015•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Kyle Polak
    Kyle PolakFeb 23, 2015
    The court recognizes this policy as unfair but “the appellee…simply failed to demonstrate that the law in any way reflects a purpose to discriminate on the basis of sex.” If that is the case, the same can/is argued in the workplace. Women are payed lower wages but prove that it is because of their gender, even though it is the elephant in the room.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted user
    I know this post is more than a year old now, but I cannot help myself from commenting. When you say “it is the elephant in the room” what do you exactly mean? Do you mean to say that gender specifically is a significant factor in the wage gap?
    Mar 1, 2016•Delete
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    Kyle is in law school now, I doubt he checks the wiki, but we will see?
    Mar 1, 2016•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 23, 2015
    “The Supreme Court’s decision upheld the constitutionality of a state law giving hiring preference to veterans over non-veterans. The law was challenged as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by a woman, who argued that the law discriminated on the basis of sex because so few women held veteran status”

    Indirect discrimination.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 23, 2015
    By determining that the statute does not discriminate against women in a way that is in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the court acknowledged the discriminatory nature of the statute, but blames the exclusion of women in the armed forces, not on the statute itself
    Reply
    Comments above copied from original document
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin LylesFeb 22, 2015
    http://www.va.gov/vetdata/docs/specialreports/final_womens_report_3_2_12_v_7.pdf
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 22, 2015
    “The justices were unanimous in agreement on the test for locating discrimination in facially neutral statutes – the criterion must be evidence of an intent to discriminate.”

    I find this case revealing for numerous reasons; however, as “intent” has stood at the center of so many cases regarding discrimination, I find its absence to be an extraordinarily weak justification for laws that are “neutral on their face.” Intent, when not stated in law, is like the wind. It may invisible, but one cannot deny when they feel its force. Why should a law that creates discrimination, yet possesses “legitimate and worthy purposes,” be somehow seen as more valid than a law that intentionally creates discrimination? To those affected, the process or intent of the law bears little significance when the consequences remain the same. Moreover, this case highlights how “indirect discrimination” can often be woven into laws, and in that respect, intent becomes even more difficult to prove legally.
    Thomas Delregno – Team 4
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 20, 2015
    De Facto- in fact, or in effect, whether by right or not.

    De Jure- By law, according to rightful entitlement or claim; by right.

    In this case the law Massachusetts law, in effect, disproportionately disadvantaged women. De facto discrimination is not necessarily unconstitutional.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted user
    “may reflect unwise policy, but appellee has simply failed to demonstrate that the law in any way reflects a purpose to discriminate on the basis of sex” I like this quote. We shouldn’t turn to the Court to solve all our problems. Fix the law the old fashion way.
    Feb 20, 2015 (edited Feb 23, 2015)•Delete
    Deleted user
    Deleted user
    What is the old fashion way?
    Feb 23, 2015•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 27, 2014
    From today’s lecture:
    A law that favors one sex (or race, color, religion) over another in its impact (emphasis on “impact”), although the statute makes no mention of gender or race, is sometimes facially neutral.
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 26, 2014
    i like this case. it discriminates against non-vet males as much as it does women doesn’t it?
    Reply
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    not sure I follow? why do you like it?
    Feb 26, 2014•Edit•Delete
    Deleted user
    Deleted user
    poorly worded. i find the case interesting because it raises questions about who is discriminated against. i buy/like the decision because the statute, if it was on a federal level, would discriminate against 93% of the population that are non-veterans. i dont see it as a gender issue and more of a veteran/nonveteran issue even though men made up 98% of all veterans. men who didnt serve were beat out by men who did. women who served beat out men and women who didn’t. stevens says 2 million men (32% of population ) are disadvantaged by this compared to 3 million women (48% of population) .

    i see the other side of it though that women weren’t afforded as many opportunities and now they are stuck with lower test scores but i dont think taking away an advantage for male and female veterans would be the right way to fix that.

    as women continue to grow to be a larger portion of veterans (15% in 2035) i think they should be granted an easier path to employment after serving.
    Feb 26, 2014•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin LylesFeb 26, 2014

    Demographics of Active Duty U.S. Military


    Reply
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    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin LylesFeb 26, 2014
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/24/us/military-women-glance/
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 24, 2014
    It seems like the court is focused on intent and not reality. Veteran doesn’t refer to one sex but that doesn’t mean the number of female and male veterans are equal or even close.
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userFeb 24, 2014
    In its application and by definition a veteran is gender neutral meaning that the word veteran cannot refer to one sex only
    Reply
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    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin LylesFeb 15, 2014
    define “gender-neutral”

  12. Marissa Frank
    Team 4

    Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney
    442 U.S. 256, 1979

    Facts: Helen Feeney, a civil service employee of the state of Massachusetts for 12 years. Helen competed for many jobs by taking the appropriate civil service tests. For each respective job the top three candidates would be eligible for said job. Massachusetts’ laws however gave hiring preference to veterans over non-veterans regardless of test scores. Feeney consistently scored higher than most applicants but due to the Massachusetts’ statute, veterans would be hired over Feeney. Feeney filed suit in 1975 in a Federal District Court. She initially won a declaration of unconstitutionality; the case was sent back down to the district level by the U.S. Supreme Court for reconsideration after the “facial neutrality” rule was established in Washington v. Davis. The District Court reaffirmed its decision and the Supreme Court then took up the case.

    Constitutional Issue: Does the facially neutral Massachusetts’ law that gives hiring preference to veterans over non-veterans constitute a level of gender discrimination that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment?

    Holding: No, 7-2

    Reasoning: The Court held that the law was enacted to serve “legitimate and worthy purposes” and not to discriminate on the basis of sex. Few women benefit from this statute, but Justice Stewart argued that not only males are veterans and female veterans can also benefit from this statute.

    Dissent: Per Justice Marshall, the “primary objective” of the Massachusetts statute was to give preference to those with prior military experience; however, because an advantage is given to one group does not mean that it does not disadvantage another group. This law not only discriminates against female non-veterans but also male non-veterans.

  13. Brenda Olvera [t4]
    POLS 356
    Case Brief: Personnel Administration of Massachusetts v. Feeney

    Title and Citation
    Personnel Administration of Massachusetts v. Feeney
    442 U.S. 256 (1979)

    Facts of the Case
    The court had a rule called the “Craig-rule” which told the court how to deal with gender discrimination. This case brought up another test for deciding whether to “invoke Craig level scrutiny for laws that hurt one sex more than another but are neutral on their face.” Helen Feeney brought this case to challenge Massachusetts laws. A statute in Massachusetts gave preference to military veterans to serve civil service jobs. This required veterans to get a high score in the exam and those who did have the highest score got the highest ranked position. Helen Feeney had been working a civil service job for 12 years and received a good score but was always outscored by veterans. She won a declaration of unconstitutionality in the Federal district court but later the U.S Supreme Court sent the case back for review at the District court because of Washington v. Davis. District court reaffirmed its decision and the case went back up to the Supreme Court.

    Issues
    Does favoring veterans for civil service jobs violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment? Does it discriminate against women?

    Decisions
    Justice Stewart delivered the opinion of the court. The court reversed the decision of the district court. No, it does not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It was voted 7-2

    Opinions and Reasoning
    The hiring preference was created so that veterans can be rewarded for their military service as they have to transition from military to civilian life. Public employment is not a constitutional right but state does have discretion in having employee qualifications. The statute serves “legitimate and worthy purposes” and it does not discriminate against women (men are at a disadvantage too)

    Dissenting and Concurring
    Justice White and Justice Stevens concur: the amount of males at a disadvantage because of the statute is large and similar to the number of disadvantaged females.
    Justice Brennan and Justice Marshall dissent: women are less likely to serve the military and they occupy less demanding jobs than males.

  14. Thomas Delregno [T4]
    PolS 356
    Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney
    442 U.S. 256 (1979)

    Facts: Helen Feeney, a 12-year civil service employee of the state of Massachusetts, competed for a number of jobs by taking the appropriate civil service tests. In regard to each civil service job, the top three candidates would be eligible for that position. However, Massachusetts laws gave hiring preference to veterans that applied for civil service employment, and Feeney was not a veteran. While Feeney scored well on the civil service exams (second or third highest in the state), numerous veterans were ranked above her as the law stated that a veteran who passed an exam would be ranked above a nonveteran in regard to their eligibility for that civil service position. As veterans were ranked above Feeney numerous times, she would file suit in 1975 in Federal District Court. Initially, she would win a declaration of unconstitutionality; however, the case would be sent back down to the district level by the U.S. Supreme Court for reconsideration after the “facial neutrality” rule was established in Washington v. Davis. After the district court reaffirmed its judgment, the U.S. Supreme Court would then take up the case.

    Issue: Does the facially neutral Massachusetts law that gives hiring preference to veterans over nonveterans in civil service positions constitute a level of gender discrimination that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment?

    Holding: No (7-2). Judgment is reversed.

    Reasoning: Per Stewart. In reflecting the laws justifications, the hiring perseverance given to veterans in civil service in Massachusetts has traditionally been to reward veterans for their sacrifice, ease the transition between military and civilian life, promote patriotic service, and to draw the most “loyal and well-disciplined people to civil service occupations.” The law was enacted with “legitimate and worthy purposes,” and does discriminate on the basis of gender as both women and men are impacted. Moreover, the term of veteran is one that is gender-neutral, and women who have served in the military “have always been entitled to the benefit of the preference.” While the law may be considered unwise, the appellee “has simply failed to demonstrate that the law in any way reflects a purpose to discriminate on the basis of sex.”

    Concurring: Per Stevens joined by White. As the number of males disadvantaged by the Massachusetts law is “sufficiently large – and sufficiently close” to the number of females that are disadvantaged, the claim that the “rule was intended to benefit males as a class over females as a class” is not supported by the evidence.

    Dissent: Per Marshall joined by Brennan. Found by the District Court, the “primary objective” of the Massachusetts law was to give preference to those with prior military service, or “veterans.” However, merely because an advantage is given to one group, does not “exclude the possibility that it also intends to disadvantage another.” As less than 2% of women in Massachusetts are veterans, the statute that is “anything but neutral in application” should require the burden to be placed on the State to prove that sex-based considerations were not involved in the “legislative scheme.” As the law has created a “gender-based civil service hierarchy, with women occupying the low-grade clerical and secretarial jobs,” the State has not met this burden of proof and the law could not be considered gender-neutral when considering the less discriminatory alternatives.

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