The Courts and the Privatization of Civil Service

State Supreme Courts have ruled in different ways regarding the privatization of public functions.  In several cases, the Courts concluded that the civil service was created for a compelling public purpose that includes fairness and the protection of public employees from the old “spoils system”.  These purposes, the Courts concluded, may take into account but goes beyond questions of efficiency and monetary savings.

Hawaii Supreme Court Rules Civil Service Jobs Cannot be Privatized

In 1997 the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in Konno v. County of Hawaii that a County could not privatize the operation of a landfill since these were jobs that “are performing a service that has been customarily and historically provided by civil servants”. The case involved a County that had contracted with Waste Management Inc. (WMI) to build and operate a new landfill to take the place of one operated by County employees. … Read More

Washington Supreme Court Nixes Privatization of Custodial Functions

In 1978 the Supreme Court of Washington ruled that the Washington State Community College District could not contract out to a private firm custodial services that “historically had been provided by civil service staff employees of the College.”… Read More


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David Morris

David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and currently ILSR's distinguished fellow. His five non-fiction books range from an analysis of Chilean development to the future of electric power to the transformation of cities and neighborhoods.  For 14 years he was a regular columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. His essays on public policy have appeared in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, Washington PostSalonAlternetCommon Dreams, and the Huffington Post.