County of Los Angeles v. Davis
440 U.S. 625 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625 (1979)

County of Los Angeles v. Davis

No. 77-1553

Argued December 5, 1978

Decided March 27, 1979

440 U.S. 625

Syllabus

Respondents, representing present and future black and Mexican-American applicants to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, brought a class action against petitioners (Los Angeles County, and the County Board of Supervisors and Civil Service Commission), alleging, inter alia, that petitioners' hiring procedure whereby they proposed to interview the top 544 scorers (of whom 492 were white, 10 were black, and 33 were Mexican-American) on a 1972 written civil service examination in order to fill temporary emergency manpower needs in the Fire Department, violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The District Court, in 1973, held that the procedure, though not discriminatorily motivated, violated § 1981 because the 1972 examination had not been validated as predictive of job performance, and accordingly the court permanently enjoined all future discrimination and mandated good faith affirmative action efforts. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: The controversy has become moot during the pendency of the litigation. Pp. 440 U. S. 631-634.

(a) Jurisdiction, properly acquired, may abate if a case becomes moot because (1) there is no reasonable expectation that the alleged violation will recur, and (2) interim relief or events have completely and irrevocably eradicated the effects of the alleged violation. When both conditions are satisfied, the case is moot because neither party has a legally cognizable interest in the final determination of the underlying questions of fact and law. P. 440 U. S. 631.

(b) Here the first condition is met, because there can be no reasonable expectation that petitioners will use an unvalidated civil service examination for the purposes contemplated in 1972. The temporary emergency firefighter shortage and lack of an alternative means of screening job applicants existing at that time were unique, are no longer present, and are unlikely to recur because, since the commencement of the litigation, petitioners have instituted an efficient and nonrandom method of screening job applicants and increasing minority representation in the Fire Department. Pp. 440 U. S. 631-633.

(c) The second condition of mootness is met because petitioners' compliance since 1973 with the District Court's decree and their hiring

Page 440 U. S. 626

of over 500 of new recruits from minorities has completely cured any discriminatory effects of the 1972 proposal. Pp. 440 U. S. 633-634.

566 F.2d 1334, vacated and remanded.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 440 U. S. 634. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, post, p. 440 U. S. 636.

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