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Court Rejects “Reverse” Racism (Update)

John on June 29, 2009 at 9:26 am

No one is going to put it in those terms of course, but that’s what it amounts to really. From the Wall Street Journal:

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the court’s opinion, said the city of New Haven violated a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits employment discrimination.

“Whatever the city’s ultimate aim — however well intentioned or benevolent it might have seemed — the city made its employment decision because of race,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

“The city rejected the test results solely because the higher scoring candidates were white.”

How long before we get a similar result on other elements of affirmative action? According to former Justice O’Connor it shouldn’t be more than 19 more years. [sigh]

Update: George Will has a good column on this today:

Although New Haven’s firefighters deservedly won in the Supreme Court, it is deeply depressing that they won narrowly — 5-4. The egregious behavior by that city’s government, in a context of racial rabble-rousing, did not seem legally suspect to even one of the court’s four liberals, whose harmony seemed to reflect result-oriented rather than law-driven reasoning.

The undisputed facts are that in 2003 the city gave promotion exams to 118 firemen, 27 of them black. The tests were prepared by a firm specializing in employment exams and were validated, as federal law requires, by independent experts. When none of the African-Americans did well enough to qualify for the available promotions, a black minister allied with the seven-term mayor warned of a dire “political ramification” if the city promoted from the list of persons (including one Hispanic) that the exams identified as qualified. The city decided that no one would be promoted, calling this a race-neutral outcome because no group was disadvantaged more than any other.

The city’s idea of equal treatment — denying promotions equally to those deemed and those not deemed qualified — was particularly galling to Frank Ricci, who had prepared for the exams by quitting his second job, buying the more than $1,000 worth of books the city recommended, paying to have them read onto audiotapes — he is dyslexic — and taking practice tests and interviews. His efforts earned him the sixth-highest score.

As Will says, it’s disturbing that four of the Justices seem to be bean counters first and lawyers second. There is nothing just about this action, but don’t tell that to Sonia Sotomayor. The “wise Latina” didn’t see a problem here.

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Category: Crime & the Law |

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