Madigan v. Levin: What Acts Apply to Age Discrimination?

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on October 07, 2013 4:46 PM

Today was opening day at SCOTUS and the first case the Court heard oral arguments on was Madigan v. Levin. And in what might be the first upset of the season, this case may not even be decided at all.

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Madigan v. Levin -- Background

Harvey Levin was an Illinois Assistant Attorney General for nearly six years and was terminated, along with eleven other attorneys. Since he was over the age of 60, and "replaced" by a female attorney in her 30s, Levin claimed that he was fired as a result of sex and age discrimination, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Madigan v. Levin -- Legal Analysis

Levin filed claims against Illinois, the office of the Attorney General (in official capacity and as an individual), and four other attorneys in their individual capacities. The district court denied the individuals qualified immunity stating that the ADEA was not the exclusive remedy for age discrimination claims. On interlocutory appeal, the Seventh Circuit agreed and held that: "it was clearly established that age discrimination in employment violates the Equal Protection Clause ... Although age is not a suspect classification, states may not discriminate on that basis if such discrimination is not 'rationally related to a legitimate state interest.'"

The Seventh Circuit's holding in Levin departed from the five other Circuits to have addressed the same issue. (See the Related Resources below for a list of the other circuit cases). To see the play-by-play for yourself, feel free to read the transcripts of the oral argument.

Madigan v. Levin -- Jurisdictional Issues

A group of professors, who "specialize in the arcane field of court procedure" filed an amicus brief arguing that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction, because the Seventh Circuit didn't have jurisdiction in the first place, according to the Law Professor Blogs Network. In their brief they state: "Specifically, the Seventh Circuit lacked 'pendent appellate jurisdiction' on an interlocutory qualified immunity appeal to decide the question on which certiorari was granted." Quite a bit of oral argument was devoted to this issue.

It would be a shame for the first case to have oral arguments before the Court end up not even being decided on jurisdictional issues. Talk about a collasal waste of time, effort and money (Congress must be rubbing off on the Supreme Court). But in all seriousness, we have procedures for a reason and if a case has no business being addressed by the Court, then it shouldn't be.

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