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United States Civil Service Commission v. National Association of Letter Carriers ALF-CIO

    Citation. 22 Ill.413 U.S. 548, 93 S. Ct. 2880, 37 L. Ed. 2d 796 (1973)

    Brief Fact Summary. Six individual federal employees and local political committees filed a complaint asserting that the Hatch Act (codified as 5 U.S.C. Section:7324(a)(2)) (the Act) was facially unconstitutional insofar as it prevented federal employees from taking an active part in political management or campaigns.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. This case illustrates the rule that Congress may impose restrictions on federal employees, as long as the restrictions are uniform.


    Facts. Six individual federal employees and local political committees filed a complaint asserting that the Hatch Act (codified as 5 U.S.C. Section:7324(a)(2)) (the Act) was facially unconstitutional insofar as it prevented federal employees from taking an active part in political management or campaigns. The District Court for the District of Columbia held that the Act was facially unconstitutional in that it prevented freedom of expression. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) granted certiorari.

    Issue. The issue presented in this case is whether a Federal statute prohibiting federal employees from taking an active part in the election process is constitutional.

    Held. Reversed.
    In his opinion for the Supreme Court, Justice Byron White (J. White) affirmed the congressional view that partisan political activities by federal employees must be limited if the Government is to operate effectively. Because the restrictions imposed on federal employees are not aimed at any particular party, point of view or group of individuals, these restrictions do not serve to discriminate against political expression, but rather they serve to allow keep the government free from political influence.

    Discussion. Because the restrictions outlined in the Act apply to all federal employees, no particular employee’s viewpoint is being discriminated against. In this case, uniform suppression of an activity serves the greater good of governmental effectiveness.


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