April 22nd, 2009
04:47 PM ET
5 years ago

High court asked to untangle reverse discrimination case

 Recent cast has Supreme Court justices deciding when race considerations are proper to ensure a diverse workplace.
Recent cast has Supreme Court justices deciding when race considerations are proper to ensure a diverse workplace.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court's conservative majority expressed varying degrees of concern Wednesday over a civil rights case brought by 20 firefighters, most of them white, who claim reverse discrimination in promotions.

The suit was filed in response to New Haven, Connecticut, officials' decision to throw out results of promotional exams that they said left too few minorities qualified.

At issue is whether the city intentionally discriminated, in violation of both federal law and the Constitution's equal protection clause.

The high court is being asked to decide whether there is a continued need for special treatment for minorities, or whether enough progress has been made to make existing laws obsolete, especially in a political atmosphere where an African-American occupies the White House.

As is true in many hot-button social issues, Wednesday's arguments fell along familiar ideological lines, with most justices expressing clear views on when race considerations are proper to ensure a diverse workplace.

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