2009-07-03 / Editorial/Opinion

Supremes Make A Just Decision In New Haven Firefighter Case

The Supreme Court has finally made a ruling that comes down on the side of fair play and rationalism. On Monday, a bare majority of the nine justices ruled that white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a district court ruling that said the city had the right to throw out an entire promotion list because there were too few minorities on the list. Several of the firefighters sued and now have won. In fact, we have all won a victory this week, because New York City, long concerned about law suits connected with minority hires, has, in the past, renormed tests so that the questions answered correctly by the majority of minorities counted more than those answered correctly by the majority of white candidates. It has also discounted tests which were "failed" by large number of minorities, all because city officials feared a lawsuit from minority candidates. That no longer need be the case. "Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examination and qualified for promotion," said Justice Anthony Kennedy in his decision. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, writing for the minority, said, "[The firefighters] understandably attract this court's sympathy, but they had no vested right to promotion." She is wrong. The firefighters don't want her sympathy, they want the fairness that the Constitution guarantees to all citizens and now they will finally get that justice.

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