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Refuses to Hear Boston Police Claim of Reverse Discrimination

July 7, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court today refused to hear the appeal of five white men who say they were denied promotions in a Boston area police force because of reverse racial discrimination.

The justices, over one dissenting vote, let stand rulings that dismissed the five white lieutenants’ challenge to an affirmative action plan within the Metropolitan District Commission police force.

Only Justice Byron R. White voted to hear arguments in the case.

The white officers contend that the plan resulted in the 1984 promotion to captain of a less-qualified black man.

Minority employees of Massachusetts sued the state in 1974, attacking alleged racial discrimination in hiring and promotions in the state civil service.

Before the lawsuit reached trial, a consent decree was reached in which state agencies in 1979 promised to take certain affirmative action through 1987 to make up for ″such past practices of discrimination ... sufficient to sustain (a lawsuit).″

The consent decree came into play when police lieutenants in the Metropolitan District Commission took a competitive examination for the position of captain in the spring of 1983.

Robert Devereaux, William E. Kelley, John Bakey, Donald Dentremont Jr. and Daniel Gately Sr., all of whom are white, trailed two other white lieutenants in test scores attained.

Those two white lieutenants eventually were promoted to captain, along with a black lieutenant whose test score ranked just behind the five unpromoted white men.

The five white lieutenants sued, but a federal trial judge and the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the affirmative action plan included in the judicial consent decree.

The Supreme Court last week upheld an affirmative action plan aimed at raising the number of minority members hired and promoted by Clevelvand’s fire department.

The ruling was a strong reaffirmation of the legality of affirmative action in employment.

Acting in a separate appeal today the justices also threw out an appeal by other city police officers, most of them white males, who said the program unlawfully discriminates against them.