June 29th, 2009
10:10 AM ET
14 years ago

CNN Poll: Two-thirds think firefighters were discriminated against

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans think white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut where discriminated against when the city tossed out the results of a promotion exam after too few minorities scored high enough on the test.

Monday the Supreme Court, in a five to four vote, ruled in favor of the white firefighters.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey released Monday morning, as the Supreme Court handed down it's ruling, indicates that 65 percent of those questioned say the firefighters were victims of discrimination and should get promotions based on the test results, with 31 percent feeling that the city should a new test to make sure minority firefighters were not victims of discrimination.

"Not surprisingly, most Republicans think that the firefighters were victims of discrimination, but a majority of Democrats join in that view," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Fifty-seven percent of Democrats say the white firefighters were discriminated against. Two-thirds of Independents and three-quarters of Republicans agree."

Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court justice David Souter, was one of three appeals court judges who ruled that New Haven officials acted properly.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,026 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: CNN poll • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Liz

    This kind of thing makes me so frustrated. I will fully admit that discrimination against minorities still exists in the world today, but I can't help but think that "equality" should not be the main focus in this situation. Firefighting isn't about race or gender, it's about saving lives. I don't care if the promoted firefighters are white, black, or have two heads; when my house is on fire and my family in danger, I want the most qualified people there leading the rescue.

    I think that anyone who argued against the firefighters would feel differently if their family was in danger and less qualified people were sent simply because the city tried to make things "fair."

    June 29, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Stephen

    The problem is that we don't know if the test was fair or not. I am very skeptical of any written test that claims to be able to judge leadership. Leadership is not an academic quality.

    The next step in this process is for the minorities who did not pass the test to challenge it. If the test is found to be fair, but their not passing it is based on them not being capable leaders, they need to know that. If it is biased because questions were inadvertently worded in such a way that a person with a 'white' male background would score higher (this has been demonstrated before on intelligence tests), then they should win just compensation for being passed over.

    The idea that because a test was given, it had to be fair is ludicrous.

    June 29, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Christopher

    I am glad that the Supreme court fuled in favor of the whilte fire fighters, as it was simply the right thing to do. The general audacity of the City of New Haven in their actions void an entire block of test results out of sheer political stupidity – is interesting in itsef. The same test was given to all fire fighters, and as with the majority of tests given in any academic setting/civil service – you should not be rewarded for doing poorly, or not passing the accepted threshold. Isn't that the point of an evaluation? If the firefighters did not win, then it would send a message that unqualified individuals take precidence over those suited for the job. Race obviously should have nothing to do with it – its who is better suited to perform.

    June 29, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
1 2 3