The Supreme Court upheld veterans’ hiring preferences in public employment as nondiscriminatory toward women.
A Massachusetts statute gave absolute lifetime preference for veterans for hiring in public employment despite the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. When some women were not hired despite having higher scores than veterans on civil service examinations, they claimed sex discrimination. Although 98 percent of Massachusetts veterans were men and the veterans’ preference applied to 60 percent of the jobs in the state, the Supreme Court, by a vote of seven to two, found that the law did not discriminate against women because it also affected men who were not veterans, making the law neutral on its face, not gender based. In short, disproportionate impact was not the equivalent of discrimination. Justices Thurgood Marshall and William J. Brennan, Jr., dissented because the impact on women was so great and because the state had not met a burden of showing that gender considerations had played no role in the legislative decisions.
Equal protection clause