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Constitutional Law Keyed to Shanor
Washington v. Davis
Citation:426 U.S. 229 (1976)
African-American applicants to the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department brought suit after being rejected for failing the written test. To be accepted by the Department, the police recruit was required to satisfy certain physical and character standards and to receive a grade of at least 40 out of 80 on “Test 21,” which is an examination that is used generally throughout the federal service, and which was designed to test verbal ability, reading and comprehension. The examination was generally used throughout the Nation. The district court found that a higher percentage of African Americans than whites failed the test but denied relief finding that the test was reasonably related to the requirements of the police recruit program. The court of appeals found the lack of discriminatory intent regarding the test irrelevant and emphasized its disproportionate impact holding that such impact alone is sufficient to constitute a violation.
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