June 29th, 2009
10:13 AM ET
12 years ago

BREAKING: White firefighters win high court appeal

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/29/supreme.court.discrimination/art.supreme.cnn.jpg caption="The Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling backed firefighters in a 'reverse discirmination' case Monday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. Supreme Court sided Monday with white firefighters in their workplace discrimination lawsuit, a divisive case over the role race should play in job advancement.

In the split 5-4 vote, a majority of the justices ruled that the city of New Haven, Connecticut, improperly threw out the results of promotional exams that officials said left too few minorities qualified.

Only one Latino and no African-American firefighters qualified for promotion based on the exam; the city subsequently decided not to certify the results and issued no promotions.

A group of 20 mostly white firefighters sued, claiming "reverse discrimination."

High court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor heard the case on her federal appeals court last year and sided with the city.

The Supreme Court was being asked to decide whether there was 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.

"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," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.

Full story


Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Up Yours Sonia

    Take that Sotomayor.

    June 29, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  2. carlo

    This was a decision split on ideological grounds. It won't make too much of a dent in the overall nominations. Surely, no one expected a conservative (code word racist) judge to decide against them, now did they?

    June 29, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  3. RR

    "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," said Justice Kennedy.

    Well said, Justice Kennedy. Discrimination is discrimination.

    June 29, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  4. inofritzn

    HA what a win for the minorities in this country that just want to be treated equal!!

    June 29, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. Ryan

    What a surprise! Anyone could have called that this would be a 5-4 ruiling. So 4 justices agreed with her and when she gets on the court, 4 justices will continue to agree with her (including her). I'm sure the rethuglicans will have a field day with this.

    They should post the test online so we can all judge whether it is biased.

    June 29, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Vanessa

    Kennedy....always, Kennedy.

    June 29, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. RI Moderate

    Justice!

    June 29, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  8. abraxis

    If reverse discrimination can exist then women can discriminate against men and the poor can discriminate against the rich in the work place.

    Nice going Supreme Court! Isn't this judicial activism on the part of the conservative justices on the bench?

    June 29, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. ck

    your inexperience is really starting to surface Obama!!

    LOL

    June 29, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  10. dominican mama 4 Obama

    At least the White firefighters had legal recourse. When we got screwed... we stayed screwed.

    June 29, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. gt

    da... ya... the most qualifed deserves the job.... gee what a consept ..

    June 29, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. Kevin in Ohio

    Bravo! For the time being, at least the Supreme Court is still sane.

    June 29, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Robin

    Two groups took a test(s) for jobs and or promotions. Whites and minorities.

    White firefighters scored higher. They were passed over.
    Minorities scored lower. They were given jobs and promotions.

    Would it only be called discrimination if it were the other way around?

    So the Supreme Court has pretty much said that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was wrong. That will make her confirmation hearings a little more interesting.

    June 29, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  14. makesUwonder

    EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's a great day for those firefighters!

    June 29, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Sotomayer wrong? Voting on the wrong side? Obama appoints her to the Supreme Court so she can continue to screw over the non-minorities? We need to fast track this confirmation according to the dope smokers.

    June 29, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. 30m-PA-Independent

    Good decision!

    June 29, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Shawn - GA

    As someone who came from a Northern State to a southern. I was shocked to see how racist people are against white people. The things they allow to be said on the self proclaimed black radio stations in regard to white people are horrible. Racism from any group is a horrible thing. It does not matter that things were a certain way for x amount of years... So “now the tables are turned...”

    That is a worse attitude than the original racism, if you know how it feels then why do it? It takes all of us to make things better, we need to let go of the grudges and the hard feelings. We as a people have such ability to love, however far far far too many people choose hate. We need to love one another, with NO regard for race, age, sex, sexual orientation…etc

    Our Lord called upon us to hate the sin but love the sinner, we need to stop hating the sinners. We NEED to, for the sake of all of us!

    June 29, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  18. Alfred E. Neumann

    Well, four justices agreed with Sotomayor – this will not sidetrack her nomination. But it does speak to her qualifications.

    Still, this was textbook reverse discrimination unless something was inherently racial about the construction or makeup of the test.

    Bottom line – a liberal will replace a liberal on the SC. Winning elections has consequences.

    June 29, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. crushliberalism

    The race-baiting nominee for the same SCOTUS that just overturned her bigoted decision should be too humiliated to continue with her nomination.

    June 29, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Bassman

    Maybe its time to rethink if Sonia Sotomayor is qualified to have a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

    June 29, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  21. New Yorker

    Wow! Great news for logically thinking people! The original ruling on this case really was a bad decision and proves Sotomayor lacks the good judgment required of a justice. She should not be allowed on our country's highest bench regardless of what advocates for minority's rights (over other minority's rights) may say or illogically think.

    June 29, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Kat

    Why is it "reverse discrimination"? Discrimination isn't just a minorities thing, white people can be discriminated against as well. The addition of "reverse" to the term is unnecessary.

    June 29, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  23. dominican mama 4 Obama

    "The Supreme Court was being asked to decide whether there was a continued need for special treatment for minorities, or whether enough progress has been made to make existing laws obsolete"

    Interesting question: Do three decades of affirmative action make up for hundreds of years of exclusion. Hmmm.
    And please, save all the crapola about hard work, etc. When the decision makers are White which way do you think the scale is going to tip more often than not?

    June 29, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  24. Reinstate Darwinism

    Americans only come in one color.

    RED, WHITE and BLUE!

    June 29, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. T'SAH from Virginia

    OKAY – I am a HEAVY Demo and I do agree that this was discrimination against white firefighters!!! I am also an African American and truly believe that if we WANT something BAD ENOUGH – we "should" and "will" FIGHT to achieve that goal – even if it meant STUDYING and taking extra steps and efforts to pass the test. I have not heard ONE firefighter who failed the test coming forward indicating it was discrimination – HOWEVER, I did hear from the one WHITE firefighter who did come forward and explained what he went through in order to PASS the test – and it was not "partying"!!! He struggled to ACHIEVE and that should not be taken away from him.

    Let's move on and NOT make this a reason why Sotomayor "should not" be a Supreme Court judge – then I would say it is "hidden" racism!!!

    June 29, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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