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Elgin v. Department of the Treasury

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: October 17, 2011
Case #: 11-45
641 F.3d 6 (1st Cir. 2011)
Full Text Opinion: http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Elgin_opbelow.pdf

Employment Law: Whether the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) prevents Federal District Courts from having jurisdiction over constitutional challenges to employment dismissals under the Military Selective Services Act (MSSA).

The MSSA bars citizens and resident aliens who were required to register with the Selective Service but “knowingly and willfully” failed to do so before age 26 from federal employment. 5 U.S.C. § 3328(a) (2006). Elgin and the other three petitioners either were discharged or resigned from federal employment when confronted with the discovery that they had failed to register with the Selective Service. The CSRA provides discharged federal employees with a remedy through the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and judicial review in the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Petitioners challenged the MSSA bar to employment, claiming that it is an unconstitutional bill of attainder and that it violates equal protection. The District Court refused to dismiss the claims on jurisdictional grounds but ruled against petitioners on their constitutional claims. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated the District Court’s judgment and remanded for entry of a new judgment denying relief for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

On appeal, the petitioners argue that the CSRA does not prevent Federal District Court jurisdiction over their constitutional claims because the statute lacks the required congressional intent to clearly do so. The petitioners also argue that the CSRA does not provide them with a remedy because the MSPB does not have jurisdiction to review terminations under absolute statutory bars. Before the petitioners filed suit in Federal District Court, the MSPB had dismissed petitioner Elgin’s appeal of his MSSA termination for lack of jurisdiction.