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Thread: Supreme Court rules in favor of white firefighters in discrimination case

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    Thumbs up Supreme Court rules in favor of white firefighters in discrimination case

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court sided Monday with white firefighters in a workplace discrimination lawsuit, a divisive case over the role race should play in job advancement.

    The Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling backs firefighters in a reverse discirmination case.

    In the split 5-4 vote, a majority of the justices ruled that the city of New Haven, Connecticut, improperly threw out the results of promotional exams that officials said left too few minorities qualified.
    One Latino and no African-American firefighters qualified for promotion based on the exam; the city subsequently decided not to certify the results and issued no promotions.

    A group of 20 mostly white firefighters sued, claiming reverse discrimination.

    High court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor heard the case on her federal appeals court last year and sided with the city.

    The Supreme Court was being asked to decide whether there was a continued need for special treatment for minorities, or whether enough progress has been made to make existing laws obsolete, especially in a political atmosphere in which an African-American occupies the White House.

    At issue was whether the city intentionally discriminated -- in violation of both federal law and the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.

    "The city rejected the test results solely because the higher scoring candidates were white," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority. "Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions."
    ...
    High court backs firefighters in reverse discrimination suit - CNN.com

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    aw. affirmative action for crackers. cute.
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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Monday June 29, 2009 10:30 EDT
    The Supreme Court's Ricci decision

    In the now famous "white firefighter" affirmative action case -- Ricci v. DeStefano -- the Supreme Court today, in a 5-4 ruling (.pdf), reversed the decision of a unanimous Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel (which included Judge Sonia Sotomayor) and held that the firefighters were the victims of unlawful racial discrimination. The Court split along standard ideological lines (Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Kennedy in the majority), with Kennedy writing the Court's opinion. Four Justices agreed with the Second Circuit's panel, including David Souter, the Justice whom Sotomayor has been nominated to replace. Several points are noteworthy about this decision:

    (1)
    In light of today's ruling, it's a bit difficult -- actually, impossible -- for a rational person to argue that Sotomayor's Ricci decision places her outside the judicial mainstream when: (a) she was affirming the decision of the federal district court judge; (b) she was joined in her decision by the two other Second Circuit judges who, along with her, comprised a unanimous panel; (c) a majority of Second Circuit judges refused to reverse that panel's ruling; and now: (d) four out of the nine Supreme Court Justices -- including the ones she is to replace -- agree with her.

    Put another way, 11 out of the 21 federal judges to rule on Ricci ruled as Sotomayor did. It's perfectly reasonable to argue that she ruled erroneously, but it's definitively unreasonable to claim that her Ricci ruling places her on some sort of judicial fringe.

    (2)
    The irony of using Ricci against Sotomayor has always been that the reason this case resonates for so many people is due to empathy for the white firefighters. That irony is underscored by today's ruling, as Justice Kennedy devotes multiple paragraphs at the beginning of his opinion to highlighting all of the facts (as opposed to legal arguments) which make people sympathetic to Ricci. Conversely, Justice Ginsburg, writing for the dissenters, noted upfront that the white firefighters "understandably attract this Court's sympathy," but it must be the law -- i.e., long-standing legal precedent and the purpose of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act -- which determines the outcome.

    From the start, those protesting Sotomayor's decision in Ricci did so by appealing not to law, but to emotion, non-legal precepts of "fairness" and empathy -- at the very same time that those very same people mocked the notion that those considerations should play any role in judicial decision-making.

    (3)
    For all the chatter about "judicial activism" and that dreadful Roberts metaphor of "a neutral umpire calling balls and strikes," it is so striking how frequently conservative judges invalidate policies which conservatives dislike as a political matter. Here we have the conservative wing of the Court declaring illegal the employment decisions of local government officials, who used a political approach -- diversity -- which conservatives dislike on policy grounds. So often, the outcomes of the allegedly neutral conservative judges are completely consistent with (and aggressively advance) the political preferences of conservatives (Bush v. Gore being only the most obvious example). Indeed, few things are rarer than conservatives Justices invalidating policies that conservatives like politically, or upholding policies they despise -- the true test for whether one applies the law independently of political and outcome preferences.

    (4)
    As is true for most discussions of affirmative action, the fight over Ricci has completely ignored the countless ways that whites in America have long benefited, and continue to benefit, from exactly the sort of non-merit considerations which affirmative action opponents decry. As Justice Ginsberg noted, whites had a virtual monopoly for decades on firefighter positions until Congress extended Title VII to public employment ("firefighting is a profession in which the legacy of racial discrimination casts an especially long shadow"), and city officials in this case determined that the test in question was flawed because, among other things, it did not reward merit. The result of the Court's decision in Ricci -- barring the City of New Haven from invalidating metrics with a racially disparate impact -- is this:

    Regardless of one's views on affirmative action, the complaints about not-merit-based factors cut both ways. As for Sotomayor, the Court's 5-4 decision today ought to put an end to the attempt to use Ricci to depict her as being somehow out of the judicial mainstream and thus unfit for the Court.

    The Supreme Court's Ricci decision - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
    I agree with Ruth.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    I know minorities who are firefighters, and one who is a captain, and they deal with their share of racism.

    But I think the Supreme Court made the right decision. Unless somebody uncovers some secret conspiracy it's not fair to throw out an entire test because barely any minorites passed it. That just creates bigger problems down the road.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    aw. affirmative action for crackers. cute.
    No, the firefighters EARNED their promotions by scoring the highest on the exam. The results of the exam were only thrown out because a local black pastor started making noise about filing a discrimination lawsuit. It was a politically-motivated decision by the mayor; contrary to what that article posted earlier stated, it had nothing to do with the test being flawed.

    Here we have the conservative wing of the Court declaring illegal the employment decisions of local government officials, who used a political approach -- diversity -- which conservatives dislike on policy grounds.

    The same could be said of liberal judges (and them forcing employers to hire less qualified candidates based on their social engineering "affirmative action" agenda)!

    Indeed, few things are rarer than conservatives Justices invalidating policies that conservatives like politically, or upholding policies they despise -- the true test for whether one applies the law independently of political and outcome preferences.

    And how do liberal justices differ in this regard?

    The city lost the case because they violated the equal protection clause.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    The same could be said of liberal judges (and them forcing employers to hire less qualified candidates based on their social engineering "affirmative action" agenda)!
    Oh those pesky evil librul activist judges.



    2004 called and wants its FOX news talking point back.
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    (2)
    The irony of using Ricci against Sotomayor has always been that the reason this case resonates for so many people is due to empathy for the white firefighters
    So true. This was an activist majority decision.

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    Elite Member crumpet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    Oh those pesky evil librul activist judges.



    2004 called and wants its FOX news talking point back.
    Please. People on both sides of the poilitical spectrum are capable of using their positions of influence to advocate for their ideology. Hardly a conservative talking point to notice that.

    Quote Originally Posted by visitor42 View Post
    So true. This was an activist majority decision.
    What's wrong with having empathy for a person who earned a position through hard work and testing achievement but was denied because of what basically amounts to emotional reasoning, or liberal white guilt? why is that any worse than having empathy for a non-white person or a woman who deserved a position but didn't get it because of the old boy's network (rich/older/white men)?
    Last edited by Tati; June 30th, 2009 at 11:15 AM.
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crumpet View Post
    Please. People on both sides of the poilitical spectrum are capable of using their positions of influence to advocate for their ideology. Hardly a conservative talking point to notice that.
    Please yourself, this WAS a 2004 talking point exactly how it was quoted.
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    Why is it called reverse discrimination?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    Please yourself, this WAS a 2004 talking point exactly how it was quoted.

    That does not automatically mean that there is no validity to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by darksithbunny View Post
    Why is it called reverse discrimination?
    The term 'reverse discrimination' goes back to affirmative action and quotas. For example, if a company is told that they have to hire/promote a certain number of historically discriminated against minorities, they ignore all white applicants, who historically weren't discriminated against.

    In the case of the firefighters, the city probably threw out the test, less out of fear of a lawsuit, but moreso because they hadn't met a quota of promoting a certain number of blacks. Which is why the white firefighters says it's reverse discrimination.

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    I agree with Ginsburg. Sadly, there are still places which create tests in the hopes of disqualifying minority applicants.

    Obama being in the White House has not changed the corporate landscape. If anything, people with "old-fashioned" views are now even more afraid that more non-whites will achieve higher positions, threatening their comfortable environment.

    I have no doubt how Clarence (Uncle) THOM-ass, voted.



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    Why am I not surprised that this was in CT??
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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    I know in certain cities when it comes to the exams for becoming firefighters and cops they tell the white males that they are required to score in the high 90's to pass, but they'll tell the minorities they only have to score like a 70 or 75. Which is insulting to everybody involved, especially the minorities.

    This case could relate to that practice, where the black firefighters figured they didn't have to score as high again so they didn't study as hard, or were led to believe they didn't have to score as high to be promoted in an attempt to disqualify them.

    But while I agree with Ginsburg about historic racism, it can't always be used as an excuse to treat blacks like we're 'fragile, eternal victims.'

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