Webster v. Doe

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Webster v. Doe
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued January 12, 1988
Decided June 15, 1988
Full case name William Hedgcock Webster, Director of Central Intelligence v. John Doe
Citations 486 U.S. 592 (more)
108 S. Ct. 2047; 100 L. Ed. 2d 632; 1988 U.S. LEXIS 2724; 56 U.S.L.W. 4568; 46 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1671; 46 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P38,034; 3 I.E.R. Cas. (BNA) 545
Prior history Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Holding
The Court held that Section 102(c) of the National Security Act, 50 U.S.C. 402(c), precluded review under the APA. However, the Court also held that the Act did not preclude review of constitutional claims (as opposed to the procedural claims).
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Rehnquist, joined by Brennan, White, Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens; O'Connor (parts I, II)
Concur/dissent O'Connor
Dissent Scalia
Kennedy took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Laws applied
National Security Act of 1947

Webster v. Doe, 486 U.S. 592 (1988), is a case decided by the United States Supreme Court that presented statutory and constitutional claims by a former CIA employee who alleged that his termination was the result of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The National Security Act of 1947 authorizes the Director of the CIA "in his discretion" to terminate the employment of any employee whenever he shall deem it to be in the security interests of the United States. John Doe, a CIA employee, voluntarily admitted to a CIA security guard that he was a homosexual. Despite having previously receiving ratings of "excellent" and "outstanding" employee performance, the employee was placed on administrative leave and later terminated as the result of his admission. William J. Casey, the Director of the CIA at that time, cited Doe's homosexuality as a threat to security. (Note that even though William H. Webster is named as the petitioner, Casey was the Director at the time of Doe's termination.)

The issue presented before the Supreme Court was whether, and to what extent, the termination decisions of the Director under 102(c) are judicially reviewable. The Court in an opinion delivered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist held that Section 102(c) of the National Security Act, 50 U.S.C. 403(c), precluded review under the Administrative Procedure Act. However, the Court held that the Act did not preclude review of constitutional claims (as opposed to the procedural claims). The Court reasoned that Congress should not be taken to have intended to preclude constitutional claims unless it has explicitly so provided (603).

Justice Antonin Scalia was the only justice to completely dissent. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor concurred in part and dissented in part while Justice Anthony Kennedy took no part. Scalia wrote in his dissent, "Neither the Constitution, nor our laws, nor common sense gives an individual a right to come into court to litigate the reasons for his dismissal as an intelligence agent" (620).

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Prince, T. P. (1988). "Webster v. Doe: Toward Constitutional Protection of Gays against Governmental Discrimination". Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 16: 639. ISSN 0094-5617. 

External links[edit]