Injunctive Relief for Constitutional Violations: Does the Civil Service Reform Act Preclude Equitable Remedies?

This Note argues that the federal courts retain power to furnish equitable relief for constitutional violations to ensure adequate protection of federal employees’ rights. Statutory procedures and remedies available under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA) and related legislation should preempt judicially created equitable relief only where the government or federal agency affirmatively demonstrates that these procedures are constitutionally sufficient. Part I canvasses the current lower court response to the question of preclusion and notes the various routes taken by the courts in inferring congressional intent to preempt. This Part discusses varying interpretations of the Civil Service Reform Act, the comprehensive legislation which some courts have recently held evinces Congress’ intent to preclude judicially created remedies. Part II charts the organization and procedural scheme of the civil service under the Act, calling attention to weaknesses in the statute which have hindered achievement of its objectives. Finally, Part III focuses on the judiciary’s role in safeguarding constitutional guarantees. The discussion highlights the traditional role injunctive relief has played in implementing constitutional protections. This Note concludes that judicially created equitable relief for constitutional deprivations promotes efficient operation of the civil service and, more importantly, ensures adequate protection of federal employees’ constitutional rights.