Webster v. Doe

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Doe, employee of the CIA


Webster, Director of the CIA


Plaintiff was an employee at the CIA and was given excellent marks as an employee. He was then told his security officer that he was homosexual. At this point the CIA gave him a polygraph to see if he has committed any security violations. He passed the polygraph.

Eventually the then director of the CIA was told of the matter. He dismissed the plaintiff via section 102(c) of the National Security Act.

Procedural History

The plaintiff filed an action in district court of the District of Columbia, claiming APA, CIA regulations, and constitutional violations. Defendant moved to dismiss the claim because Section 102(c) of the NSA precludes judicial review of Director's termination decisions under section 701, 702, and 706 of the APA. The district court did not dismiss because it felt judicial review was allowed under the APA.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided that judicial review was allowed by the APA. It then went on to discuss the merits of the case.


The court says that section 702(a)(2) applies "in those rare instances where statutes are drawn in such broad terms that in a given case there is no law to apply ... Review is not meant to be had if the statute is drawn so that a court would have no meaningful standard against which to judge the agency's exercise of discretion."

In this case section 102(c) shows that Congress meant to give high level of discretion to the agency in discharging employees, and therefore, there is no review of 102(c) via 702(a)(2).

The court says that when Congress intends to preclude judicial review of constitutional claims, it must do so clearly. And if it did, there might be constitutional questions about its constitutionality. Therefore, constitutional claims should be allowed at the district court.