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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Supreme Court Rules in Ricci Case

Many have waited for the Supreme Court decision in the case of RICCI ET AL. v. DESTEFANO ET AL (PDF link to 93 page decision).

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the white firefighters.

There were multiple reasons this case has been in the eye of the public, one of which being that the Obama nominee for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, was part of the panel of judges for the Second Circuit court that ruled against the white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut.

NYT explains the background on this issue:

Monday's decision has its origins in New Haven's need to fill vacancies for lieutenants and captains in its fire department. It hired an outside firm to design a test, which was given to 77 candidates for lieutenant and 41 candidates for captain.

Fifty six firefighters passed the exams, including 41 whites, 22 blacks and 18 Hispanics. But of those, only 17 whites and two Hispanics could expect promotion.

The city eventually decided not to use the exam to determine promotions. It said it acted because it might have been vulnerable to claims that the exam had a "disparate impact" on minorities in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The white firefighters said the decision violated the same law's prohibition on intentional discrimination.

Kennedy said an employer needs a "strong basis in evidence" to believe it will be held liable in a disparate impact lawsuit. New Haven had no such evidence, he said.

The city declined to validate the test after it was given, a step that could have identified flaws or determined that there were no serious problems with it. In addition, city officials could not say what was wrong with the test, other than the racially skewed results.

"The city could be liable for disparate-impact discrimination only if the examinations were not job related" or the city failed to use a less discriminatory alternative, Kennedy said. "We conclude that there is no strong basis in evidence to establish that the test was deficient in either of these respects."

Reverse discrimination.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey, 65 percent of the American public think the white firefighters were discriminated against, because they were white.

A new national poll suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans think white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut where discriminated against when the city tossed out the results of a promotion exam after too few minorities scored high enough on the test.

Monday the Supreme Court, in a five to four vote, ruled in favor of the white firefighters.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey released Monday morning, as the Supreme Court handed down it's ruling, indicates that 65 percent of those questioned say the firefighters were victims of discrimination and should get promotions based on the test results, with 31 percent feeling that the city should a new test to make sure minority firefighters were not victims of discrimination.

"Not surprisingly, most Republicans think that the firefighters were victims of discrimination, but a majority of Democrats join in that view," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Fifty-seven percent of Democrats say the white firefighters were discriminated against. Two-thirds of Independents and three-quarters of Republicans agree."

(Emphasis mine)

Reading the left's reactions to the Supreme Court decision, especially some of those that can be considered extreme leftists, one would think Democrats, as a whole disagreed with the Supreme Court decision, yet the CNN poll shows that liberal bloggers on the left are far more extreme than the Democrats in the general public, who a majority of agree that the white firefighters were discriminated against.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissent and in the 10th footnote it said:

The lower courts focused on respondents' "intent" rather than on whether respondents in fact had good cause to act.

So, even dissenting opinions concluded the lower court, focused on the wrong issue.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a longtime member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a statement about the decision by the Supreme Court:

“The Supreme Court today correctly held that race-based employment decisions must be justified by facts, not fear,” said Hatch. “These firefighters, who worked long and hard for it, were denied the chance for promotion because of their race.

“In the twenty-first century, race discrimination requires more justification than the fear of being sued. The Second Circuit should have recognized the serious and unique issues this case raised and given it the thorough treatment it deserved.”

The appeals court, in a very short per curiam opinion, upheld the decision by New Haven, Connecticut, to disregard results of a firefighter promotion exam because racial minorities did not score highly enough. Today, the Supreme Court held that discarding the results of a fairly designed and administered employment test solely because of the racial distribution of the result violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

No one denies that for decades and still, in some cases, there was unacceptable discrimination against blacks and minorities, but that does not justify reverse discrimination, by employers or the lower Second Circuit court.

Discrimination is wrong no matter who is being discriminated against.

If you are out reading reactions from the left and right, keep the CNN survey numbers in your head, because liberal bloggers who claim to speak for Democrats on the whole, certainly aren't here or they would be intellectually honest to admit that the majority of the Democrats in this country, agree with the Supreme Court here that the white and Hispanic firefighters on New Haven, Connecticut were discriminated against because of their race.