Supreme Court Reverses Ricci Decision; Finds White Firefighters Unfairly Denied Promotion

Emily Douglas

The Supreme Court has reversed the Second Circuit ruling in Ricci vs. DeStefano, the case in which white firefighters have argued that they had been discriminated against when a promotional exam on which no African-American firefighters scored highly enough to be promoted was discarded.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has reversed the Second Circuit ruling in Ricci vs. DeStefano, the case in which white firefighters have argued that they had been discriminated against when a promotional exam on which no African-American firefighters scored highly enough to be promoted was discarded. 

Reports the New York Times

"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," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his opinion
for the court. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices
Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

In dissent,
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the white firefighters "understandably
attract this court’s sympathy. But they had no vested right to
promotion. Nor have other persons received promotions in preference to
them."

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Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor had joined the decision rejecting the plaintiffs’ case.  Said People for the American Way vice-president Marge Baker, "Sotomayor and her panel colleagues were bound by longstanding
precedent and federal law. They applied the law without regard to their
personal views and unanimously affirmed the district court ruling. To do
anything but would have been judicial activism."

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