President Carter, displeased by a Justice Department brief that appeared to conflict with his views on veterans preference laws, said yesterday that he still believes such laws should be curtailed.

The brief, filed Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court, said that such laws, which grant preferential job treatment for veterans, are constitutional.

Carter had sought to curtail the preferential rights for able-bodied veterans while increasing them for the smaller numbers of disabled and Vietnam era veterans.

When he learned about the brief on Monday, one administratioin official said, the president was concerned not so much with its substance but with the likelihood that, through headlines and "15-second news broadcasts" it would be misinterpreted as a change in the administration's position.

Neither the president nor Attorney General Griffin Bell was aware of the brief's contents until Monday, the day the U.S. solicitor general's office filed it, according to officials of both the White House and the Justice Department.

"There has been a problem with the solicitor general's office not consulting with the people who ought to know," one administration official said.

"There is a degree of independence in (that office) that is of concern among White House aides," said another.

In a statement issued yesterday through White House press secretary Jody Powell, Carter said the attorney general has advised him that "the Justice Department brief in no way conflicts with the president's policy on veterans preference in federal employment."

Carter went on to say that a federal law granting preferential job treatment fr nondisabled veterans "unduly interferes with employment opportunities for women and minorities and with efficient and businesslike management."

The reason the Justice Department brief does not conflict with the president's position is that it merely upholds the constitutionality of the concept of preferential job treatment for veterans. The brief thereby reasserts that it is the president and Congress, not the courts, who must make any changes in the laws, according to officials of both the White House and the Justice Department.

Also yesterday, the Justice Department said that Bell had invited women's rights group to submit a legal memorandum on the case, which involves a challenge to a Massachusetts veterans preference law by a woman who consistently was passed up for job opportunities in favor of veterans. Bell said he would consider that memorandum "in evaluating any possible government options for further participation in the case."

The White House had helped set up a meeting yesterday morning between Bell and representatives of the women's groups, which have fought for modifications in the veterans preference laws, officials said.

The White House had helped set up a meeting yesterday morning between Bell and representatives of the women's groups, which have fought for modifications in the veterans preference laws, officials said.

"I'm not confident, but I'm hopeful, that Justice would be persuaded (by the memo) to reevaluate its position," said Judith Lichtman, who represented the Women's Legal Defense Fund at the meeting.

Bell, concerned about the lack of notice to himself on the brief, yesterday asked Solicitor General Wade H. McCree to give him "the same notice he gives to other agencies" when requesting comments on any legal action, according to Justice Department spokesman Terry Adamson.

"The attorney general must then bear the responsibility for any communication with the White House, as he deems necessary," Adamson said.

Officials at both the White House and the Justice Department emphazied their desire to "insulate" the solicitor general's office from undue political influence.