484 U. S. 301
January 13, 1988
Groups representing blacks and hispanics sued the New York Police Department because racial minorities were underrepresented in the ranks. All parties involved sat down and came up with a settlement decree, which instituted an affirmative action policy. The District Court gave its blessing to this decree. Then, some white police officers sued, charging that this affirmative action plan was unconstitutional race discrimination.
Some officers tried to appeal from the decree itself. The Court unanimously ruled that this was impermissible. The per curiam opinion stated that one must be a party to a lawsuit to appeal it. Other officers simply attacked the decree in a new suit. Since the decree was intended as a settlement to the controversy, there was doubt as to whether the new suit should be allowed. With no ninth Justice present, the Court split 4-4 on the issue. The answer would have to wait until the 1989 case of Martin v. Wilks.