United States v. Testan

PETITIONER:United States
LOCATION:Ship’s Restaurant

DOCKET NO.: 74-753
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)

CITATION: 424 US 392 (1976)
ARGUED: Nov 12, 1975
DECIDED: Mar 02, 1976

Edwin J. McDermott – for respondents
John P. Rupp –

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Testan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 12, 1975 in United States v. Testan

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 02, 1976 in United States v. Testan

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and the opinion of the court for 74-753 will be announced by Mr. Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

This case comes to us from the United States Court of Claims and it concerns the basic jurisdiction of that court.

Mr. Testan and Mr. Zarrilli are government trial attorneys.

They requested their employing agency to reclassify their positions to a higher grade.

They claim that their duties met the requirements for that higher grade and were identical to the duties of other attorneys in another agency.

Thus they said under the principle of equal pay for a substantially equal work prescribed in the Classification Act, they were entitled to the higher classification.

Relief was denied by their agency and by the Civil Service Commission, and the two attorneys then sued the United States in the Courts of Claims.

They sought reclassification and back pay.

That Court held that it was not empowered to direct reclassification but it further held that if the Civil Service Commission were to decide that it had made an erroneous classification, then the Court could award money damages for back pay lost.

It also held that court had power to order the commission to reconsider the classification decision.

Thus, it remanded the case to the commission to make the comparison and to report back.

We reverse, we hold that the Tucker Act which is the statute primarily concurring jurisdiction upon the Court of Claims whenever a substantive right enforceable against the United States for Money damages exists, does not in itself support the action taken by the Court of Claims in this case.

We also hold that the neither the Classification Act nor the Back pay Act creates a substantive rights in these respondents to back pay for the period of the claimed wrongful classification.

Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Blackmun.