CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION v. LOUDERMILL

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
83-1362
Petitioner 
Cleveland Board of Education
Respondent 
James Loudermill
Consolidation 
No. 83-1363
No. 83-6392
Advocates
(on behalf of the respondents in Nos. 83-1362 and 83-1363 and the petitioner in No. 83-6392)
(on behalf of the petitioners in Nos. 83-1362 and 83-1363 and respondents in No. 83-6392)
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Facts of the Case 

James Loudermill stated on his application for employment with the Cleveland Board of Education that he had never been convicted for a felony. After hiring him as a security guard, the board discovered that he had been convicted for grand larceny and without further consideration fired him for providing false information on his application. Since Loudermill qualified as a "classified civil servant" under Ohio law, he obtained a property right to his employment. This meant he could only be dismissed for cause and could obtain an administrative review of the causes for his termination. The Cleveland Civil Service Commission granted him an administrative review after his termination and found it valid. Loudermill filed suit in District Court alleging that the review system was unconstitutional because it only allowed him to respond to the charges against him after his termination. He argued that the board removed his property without giving him a chance to defend himself in violation of his right to Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court agreed that the Ohio statute gave Loudermill a property right to his job, but ruled that the board did not violate his due process rights because it followed the procedures specified by the same statute for removing the property right. In a similar case, Richard Donnelly alleged that post- dismissal hearings violated his due process rights. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard both cases together and ruled that the board violated both defendants' due process rights by removing their property rights to employment before providing an opportunity for them to respond to charges against them.

Question 

Can a state remove a civil servant's property rights to employment before providing an opportunity for that worker to respond to the charges offered for his termination?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Loudermill, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

No. Justice Byron White authored the opinion for an 8-1 court. The Ohio statute clearly grants civil servants property rights to their employment. In order to lawfully remove this property, the Due Process Clause requires a procedure that carefully weighs the interests of the government in removing the property against the interests of the private party in retaining the property. This procedure must incorporate the "essential requirements of due process," which "are notice and an opportunity to respond." There was no strong reason to delay the opportunity to respond until after termination. The Court found that "affording the employee an opportunity to respond prior to termination would impose neither a significant administrative burden nor intolerable delays." Accordingly, the significant interests of the employees to retain their jobs outweighed the interests of the state to remove employees quickly.

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CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION v. LOUDERMILL. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1984/1984_83_1362?sort=ideology>.
CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION v. LOUDERMILL, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1984/1984_83_1362?sort=ideology (last visited September 12, 2014).
"CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION v. LOUDERMILL," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 12, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1984/1984_83_1362?sort=ideology.