VANCE v. BRADLEY

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
77-1254
Appellant 
Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State et al.
Appellee 
Holbrook Bradley et al.
Opinion 
Advocates
(Solicitor General, Department of Justice, argued the cause for the appellants)
(argued the cause for the appellees)
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Term:
Facts of the Case 

Section 632 of the Foreign Service Act of 1946 required that members of the Foreign Service retirement system retire at 60. No mandatory retirement age was specified for employees covered by the Civil Service retirement system. Holbrook Bradley, a member of the Foreign Service retirement system, challenged the statute in United States District Court for the District of Columbia and prevailed. The government appealed to the Supreme Court.

Question 

Did Section 632 of the Foreign Service Act of 1946 violate the Equal Protection component of the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Vance, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

No. In an 8-1 opinion written by Justice Byron R. White, the Court emphasized the distinction between the Civil Service and Foreign Service, and the "special attention" paid to the Foreign Service by Congress. The Court interpreted the purpose of Section 632 to be the encouragement of the "highest performance in the ranks of the Foreign Service by assuring that opportunities for promotion would be available," a legitimate interest that justified the distinction. The Court also recognized the possibility that service in the Foreign Service would be more rigorous than service in the Civil Service. Given that possibility, Congress had a "reasonable basis" for enacting the statute, satisfying the rationality standard set forth in Massachusetts Board of Retirement v. Murgia.

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VANCE v. BRADLEY. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 22 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1978/1978_77_1254>.
VANCE v. BRADLEY, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1978/1978_77_1254 (last visited October 22, 2014).
"VANCE v. BRADLEY," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 22, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1978/1978_77_1254.