United States v. Paradise

PETITIONER:United States
LOCATION:Craig, Colorado

DOCKET NO.: 85-999
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

CITATION: 480 US 149 (1987)
ARGUED: Nov 12, 1986
DECIDED: Feb 25, 1987

Charles Fried – on behalf of the petitioner
J. Richard Cohen – on behalf of the respondent

Facts of the case

In response to a series of NAACP-initiated lawsuits in the 1970s, the Alabama Department of Public Safety was required to implement a promotion scheme in which half of the department’s promotions to certain ranks would go to black officers if enough qualified blacks were available.


Did the one-black-for-one-white promotion scheme violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Media for United States v. Paradise

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 12, 1986 in United States v. Paradise

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 25, 1987 in United States v. Paradise

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The other case 85-999, United States v. Paradise is here on certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

This is an affirmative action remedy case.

It involves state troopers promotions and the Alabama Department of Public Safety.

In 1972, the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama held that the Department had systematical excluded blacks from employment, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Some 11 years later, confronted with the Department’s failure to that long period to develop promotion procedures that did not have an adverse impact on blacks, District Court ordered that promotion of one black trooper for each white trooper elevated in rank, as long as qualified black candidates were available until the Department implemented an acceptable promotion procedure.

The United States challenged the constitutionality of this remidial order as violated with the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court of Appeals rejected that contention, holding that the relief or ordered extended no further than necessary to accomplish the objective of remedying the egregious and longstanding racial imbalances in the upper ranks of the fire department, and affirming the judgment of the District Court.

We, in turn, affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

For reasons stated at lenght in opinion filed over the Clerk, we hold that there is no merit in the argument of the United States, that the race conscious relief ordered in this case violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Our results are supported by three opinions: One filed by me joined by Justice Marshall, Justice Blackmun and Justice Powell; one filed by Justice Powell concurring; and one filed by Justice Stevens concurring in the judgment.

Justice O’Connor joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Scalia has filed a dissenting opinion.; Justice White has filed a dissent from the judgment of affirmants.