(By Colorado Judicial Network) On Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled that Frank Ricci and his fellow New Haven firefighters shouldn't be subject to reverse discrimination. In a 5-4 decision, the court overturned the summary judgment ruling in the 2nd Circuit of New York by Judge Sonia Sotomayor and her fellow panelists. And all nine Supreme Court Justices determined that the Sotomayor panel was in error in ruling on the case without considering its constitutionality. “Frank Ricci finally got his day in court, despite the judging of Sonia Sotomayor, which all nine Justices of U.S. Supreme Court have now confirmed was in error,” said Wendy Long, Chief Counsel for the Judicial Confirmation Network and a former U.S. Supreme Court Clerk.
The case, decided by Judge Sotomayor, raised significant questions regarding race and merit-based promotion in America’s workplaces. In Ricci, a group of fire fighters challenged the City of New Haven's refusal to certify test results for promotion within the fire department. According to test results and department protocol, only white and Hispanic fire fighters would be eligible for promotion. None of the black test takers placed high enough to claim any of the available positions. Fearing a lawsuit by minority applicants, New Haven refused to certify the exam results and no one was promoted. The City's decision was allegedly based upon a desire to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was despite the substantial efforts taken to ensure a race-neutral examination.
“No case can give us a better view of Judge Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy than her decision in Ricci vs. DiStefano,” said Colorado Judicial Network spokesperson, Jim Pfaff, “This case strikes at the heart of advancement in our society.”
"Usually, poor performance in any profession is not rewarded with the highest job offer in the entire profession,” said Wendy Long. "What Judge Sotomayor did in Ricci was the equivalent of a pilot error resulting in a bad plane crash. And now the pilot is being offered to fly Air Force One.”
Long continued, "The firefighters in New Haven who protect the public safety and worked hard for their promotions did not deserve to become victims of racial quotas, and the Supreme Court has now confirmed that they did not deserve to have their claims buried and thrown out by Judge Sotomayor."
One hundred-eighteen people took the promotional exams administered by the New Haven Fire Department. One exam was for promotion to Lieutenant, and the other to the rank of Captain. The racial breakdown of test takers included 68 white, 27 black and 23 Hispanic applicants. The breakdown of those who passed the tests included 41 whites, 9 blacks and 6 Hispanics.
Eighteen white fire fighters and one Hispanic fire fighter brought suit for discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and the very same Civil Rights protections cited by the City.
“The impact of this decision on workplaces is staggering,” said Pfaff, “If merit-based opportunity is not the best standard for promotion, what is? Should promotion be based on racial quotas? Could an otherwise qualified applicant be denied advancement because there are too many of his race already promoted? How will these decisions impact the workplace?”
“Judge Sotomayor's logic was clearly flawed as it runs counter to the American system that has made us the greatest country in the world,” said Pfaff, “The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold or reverse Judge Sotomayor’s decision will have an important impact on employment law in the United States. It puts a bright light on the necessity of have judges who follow the U.S. Constitution and the stated law instead of personal opinion or 'empathy.' The Court’s decision may also very well determine the fate of Judge Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court.”
The Colorado Judicial Network is a coalition of citizens joined together to educate Coloradans on the Federal Courts and its nominees. In partnership with the Judicial Confirmation Network (www.judicialnetwork.com), Colorado Judicial Network works to ensure that the confirmation process for all judicial nominees is fair and that every nominee sent to the full Senate receives an up or down vote.
Colorado Judicial Network Members are as follows:
· John Andrews, President, Backbone America. Former Colorado Senate President.
· Jon Caldara, President, Independence Institute.
· Mark Hillman, former State Treasurer.
· Jeff Crank, State Director, Americans for Prosperity.
· Jim Pfaff, Judicial Confirmation Network Colorado coordinator. former State Director, Americans for Prosperity and former President/CEO, Colorado Family Institute.
· Kevin Lundberg, Colorado State Senator
For additional information about Sotomayor, visit www.aboutsoniasotomayor.com