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By Associated Press, 11/15/2004 14:32

BOSTON (AP) The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower court's dismissal of a 4-year-old lawsuit challenging the Boston Police Department's affirmative action plan.

The high court declined to hear Bradley Donahue's appeal of a ruling by the U.S. District Court in Boston.

The lower court had ruled that Donahue, a white job applicant, had no basis for challenging the affirmative action plan because he didn't score high enough on the state's civil service test to have been hired even if the plan had not been in place.

In a separate court challenge that is pending, eight white men who were rejected for jobs as Boston police officers have asked a federal judge to halt the city's practice of applying racial quotas to the hiring of officers.

The applicants, who were passed over in favor of lower-scoring minorities, asked U.S. District Judge Patti Saris to clarify whether the policy should remain in effect, especially in light of a court decision last year that scrapped a similar hiring policy in the Boston Fire Department. Blacks and Hispanics make up 38.8 percent of new officers in the police department, according to the lawsuit.

Boston's police and fire departments adopted affirmative-action policies after two 1974 federal consent decrees ordered the agencies to correct gross imbalances in the racial composition of their forces.

In March 2003, a federal appeals court ruling discarded the 1970s court order that departments across the state used as a model to correct racial imbalances in fire departments. The appeals court found that the Boston Fire Department's affirmative action program was unnecessary and illegal because minority firefighters constituted a larger share of the force than minority representation in the city as a whole.
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