Morton v. Mancari

PETITIONER:Rogers C. B. Morton, Secretary of the Interior et al.
RESPONDENT:C. R. Mancari et al.
LOCATION:Bureau of Indian Affairs

DOCKET NO.: 73-362
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 417 US 535 (1974)
ARGUED: Apr 24, 1974
DECIDED: Jun 17, 1974

Gene E. Franchini – argued the cause for the appellees in both cases
Harry R. Sachse – argued the cause for appellants in No. 73-362
Harris D. Sherman – argued the cause for appellant in No. 73-364

Facts of the case

Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934. The Act included a provision in 25 U.S.C. Section 472 that gave hiring preference Native Americans for positions in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Congress then passed the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, which prohibited racial discrimination in federal employment. In June 1972, the BIA extended Indian preference to both hiring and promotion decisions. C.R. Mancari was a non- Indian employee of the BIA. He and other non-Indian employees of the BIA filed a class action in United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. They claimed that Section 472 was repealed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. They also claimed that Section 472 violated the Fifth Amendment and their right to property without due process. The District Court ruled in their favor. The United States appealed to the Supreme Court.


(1) Did the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 repeal Section 472 of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934?

(2) Did Section 472 violate the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment?

Media for Morton v. Mancari

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – April 24, 1974 in Morton v. Mancari

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 17, 1974 in Morton v. Mancari

Warren E. Burger:

The disposition of three cases will be announced by Mr. Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

The first case is a combination of 73-362 and 73-364; Morton against Mancari, and Amerind against Mancari.

This case comes to us from the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico.

It involves an apparent conflict between the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 which accords an employment preference for qualified Indians in the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the one hand and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 is amended, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The 1972 Act contains no reference whatsoever to the pre-existing Indian preference.

The appellees, who are the plaintiffs in the litigation, are non-Indian BIA employees.

They challenge the Indian preference of the 34 Act as contrary to the anti-discrimination provisions of the 1972 Act, and in addition as violative of the Due Process under the Fifth Amendment.

They claimed specifically that the 72 Act with its broad provisions against racial discrimination in employment repealed by implication the Indian preference provisions of the 34 legislation.

The three-judge Federal District Court in New Mexico decided the issue in favor of the plaintiffs and held that the Indian preference was impliedly repealed by the later or 1972 Act.

We reach the contrary conclusion and for reasons set forth in some detail in the opinion filed today conclude that the Equal Employment Opportunity Act did not repeal the Indian preference, and that in addition, the preference itself does not violate the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Accordingly, the judgment of the District Court is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion as filed.