MORTON v. MANCARI
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 They claimed that Section 472 was repealed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.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?
Legal provision: Equal Protection
No and no. The Court reversed the District Court. The 1972 Act did not explicitly repeal Section 472. Justice Harry A. Blackmun, writing for a unanimous Court, cited the long history of Indian employment preference as exceptions to prohibitions against employment discrimination. Congress had also passed two Indian preference statutes after the 1972 Act, showing that Congress did not intend implicitly to repeal Section 472. In addition, the Court held that Section 472 did not constitute discrimination in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Again, Justice Blackmun cited the history of "special treatment" granted to Indians. The preference for Indians in Section 472 was not "a 'racial' preference", but rather "an employment criterion reasonably designed to further the cause of Indian self-government." Section 472 went towards the "fulfillment of Congress' unique obligation towards the Indians," and was therefore not in violation of the Fifth Amendment.