Monday, June 29, 2009

A painful admission

The Supreme Court handed down a huge ruling today in the New Haven Firefighters case. I heard about this case a few months ago on NPR and it really riled me up. Apparently, the city of New Haven, CT, administered an exam to its corps of firemen for the purpose of determining promotions. The test was not a new thing; moreover, the people who were going to take the exam had received a syllabus and study information to help them prepare for it. It's not that there were no blacks that passed--38% of them did--it's that none of those passing scores were high enough to fill the certain number of promotion positions. So the city threw out the test results for everyone in order to avoid a potential lawsuit from minorities. What did they get in return? A lawsuit from the white firefighters (and 1 Hispanic) who should have, according to the test results, gotten a promotion. Wanting to avoid a lawsuit is no reason to ignore the law, SCOTUS said. So the Court, in its opinion today, was essentially saying that the results could not be ignored--not that the test was necessarily good or bad.
So yes, I agree with Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy. As much as it pains me to say that for the first four in that group, I think the decision (authored by swing-vote Kennedy) was a good and fair one.

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