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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the US Civil Service Commission as respondents under Rule 21 (4))
(Argued the cause for the respondents Harley et al)
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
Facts of the Case 

After the applications of two blacks were rejected by the District of Columbia Police Department, the two men filed suit against Mayor Walter E. Washington. The men alleged that the Department's recruiting procedures, including a written personnel test, discriminated against racial minorities. They claimed that the test was unrelated to job performance and excluded a disproportionate number of black applicants.


Did the recruiting procedures violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Decision: 7 votes for Washington, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court held that the procedures and written personnel test did not constitute racial discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause. The Court found that the Clause was designed to prevent official discrimination on the basis of race; laws or other official acts that had racially disproportionate impacts did not automatically become constitutional violations. The Court reasoned that the D.C. Police Department's procedures did not have discriminatory intent and were racially neutral measures of employment qualification.

Cite this Page
WASHINGTON v. DAVIS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_1492>.
WASHINGTON v. DAVIS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_1492 (last visited August 25, 2015).
"WASHINGTON v. DAVIS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_1492.