Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Monday, June 29, 2009

  Questions about the Ricci ruling

Does anybody seriously believe that New Haven's mayor, or the CSB he appointed, would have taken a stand against certifying the firefighter exam results if minorities had performed disproportionately well on it? That New Haven politicians would have argued, for example, that oral examination boards constituted so as ensure that minorities made up 2/3 of each board created a disparate impact against white applicants?

If not, then it makes a mockery of the city's professed concern that Title VII's provision on disparate impact required it to throw out the results.

The judgment handed down today by SCOTUS' conservative bloc in Ricci v. DeStefano actually was a remarkably liberal ruling. It's altogether too rare for the Scalia wing to stand up for the common man who's been kicked in the teeth arbitrarily by the powerful.

In this case, it was the Ginsburg wing of the Court that proved to be reactionary. The firefighters who did well on the exam, she said, "understandably attract the court's sympathy"... but nevertheless the Court ought to tell them to bend over again just because it can. The reason it can is that the grandiosely flawed (and unevenly enforced) law on disparate impact permits the Court, if it chooses, to join in treating job applicants as fodder in ideological jousts.

For what it's worth, I suspect that if New Haven had tossed out exam results in which minorities performed disproportionately well, the two blocs of the Supreme Court would have taken the opposite views of Title VII than the ones they adopted here.

crossposted from

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