The Foreign Service Journal, June 2003

the age beyond which fewer employees could withstand the rigors of constant transfers and the stresses which accompany life in another culture, sometimes in a hos- tile and rapidly changing environment.” In the opinion itself, Justice White found it entirely appropriate that Congress had chosen to “attach special need to high performance in the conduct of our foreign relations,” and recalled that Rep. Rogers himself (author of the 1924 Foreign Service Act, commonly known as the Rogers Act) had envisaged a lower Foreign Service retirement age because of the “diffi- cult and unsettling changes” of Foreign Service life. In fact, the Rogers Act included a provision for retirement at the age of 65, which was not changed until the 1946 revision of the act, when it was lowered to 60. White also noted that a relatively early retirement age was not discriminatory in favor of youth “qua youth,” but in order to allow regular advancement in the lower and middle ranks of the Service. In this respect the Foreign Service career models were based on the U.S. Navy’s, which the Court had already recognized as valid in earlier cases. Ironically, only two years after the Bradley decision Congress reversed course once again and raised the mandatory Foreign Service retirement age to 65, as it had been from 1924 to 1946, in the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (which took effect in 1981). The change was too late for some if not all of the Bradley plaintiffs, but it presumably took some of the sting out of the adverse Supreme Court ruling for them. Most importantly for the Foreign Service, however, the change in law kept intact the legal finding that the Service has distinct challenges, and that Congress has the right to demand more of it or — in certain cases — to compensate for those demands in ways that do not necessarily parallel Civil Service rules. ■ F O C U S J U N E 2 0 0 3 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 41 Ted Wilkinson, a former AFSA president, is now a retiree member of the AFSA Governing Board and also serves on the Journal Editorial Board.