VANCE V. BRADLEY, 440 U. S. 93 (1979)

440 U. S. 93

U.S. Supreme Court

Vance v. Bradley, 440 U.S. 93 (1979)

Vance v. Bradley

No. 77-1254

Argued November 27, 1978

Decided February 22, 1979

440 U.S. 93


Section 632 of the Foreign Service Act of 1946, which requires persons covered by the Foreign Service retirement system to retire at age 60, though no mandatory retirement age is established for Civil Service employees, including those who serve abroad, held not to violate the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 440 U. S. 95-112.

(a) The standard of rationality, rather than strict scrutiny, is to be used in determining whether this statute violates equal protection. Massachusetts Board of Retirement v. Murgia, 427 U. S. 307. Pp. 440 U. S. 96-97.

(b) Congress has recognized the distinctive requirements associated with the conduct of the country's foreign relations and has provided personnel policies for the Foreign Service, a relatively small, homogeneous, and particularly able corps, separate and apart from the Civil Service system. One of the differences, the earlier retirement age for Foreign Service officers specified in § 632, operates in conjunction with statutory "selection out" provisions as part of an integral plan to create

"a correctly balanced [Foreign] Service that [was] constructed so that the size of the various classes would correspond with the distribution of the work load of the Service,"

selection out operating primarily at the lower, and compulsory retirement at the higher, Foreign Service levels. Pp. 440 U. S. 98-102.

(c) Section 632 also furthers the congressional purpose of removing from the Foreign Service those who are sufficiently old that they may be less dependable than younger persons in facing the rigors of overseas duty. Since Congress attached special importance to the high performance in the conduct of our foreign relations, it was rational to avoid the risks of having older employee in the Foreign Service engaged in such activity, while tolerating those risks involved when older Civil Service employees work abroad. Pp. 440 U. S. 103-106.

(d) Another reason for not equating the situation with respect to Civil Service employees serving overseas with that of the Foreign Service is that about 60% of the relatively small group in the latter category serve in overseas posts at any one time, whereas only about 5% of Civil clubjuris

Page 440 U. S. 94

Service employees are in overseas service at any one time, and such service is mainly on a voluntary basis. Pp. 440 U. S. 106-108.

(e) Even if the classification at issue here is to some extent both underinclusive and overinclusive, perfection is not required to satisfy equal protection standards, and such imperfection as exists can be rationally related to the secondary objective of legislative convenience. Pp. 440 U. S. 108-109.

(f) Appellees have not satisfied the burden of demonstrating that Congress had no reasonable basis for believing that conditions overseas generally are more demanding than those in this country and that, at age 60 or before, many persons begin to decline. Pp. 440 U. S. 109-112.

436 F.Supp. 134, reversed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, STEWART, BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 440 U. S. 112.