[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/29/scotus.sotomayor/art.sotomayor.afp.gi.jpg caption="High court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was on the federal appeals court that backed New Haven, Connecticut."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The political response to the Supreme Court's overturning a ruling by the woman who could be its newest member was sharply divided, with Republicans supporting the ruling while Democrats criticized it.
In its last day in session this term, justices ruled by a 5-4 majority that the city of New Haven, Connecticut, improperly threw out the results of promotional exams that officials said left too few minorities qualified. A group of 20 mostly white firefighters sued, claiming "reverse discrimination."
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who President Obama nominated last month to replace retiring Justice David Souter, and two other judges heard the case on their federal appeals court last year and sided with the city.
"I applaud the Supreme Court's decision to uphold equal rights for all and to strike down government decisions based on race," said Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
"No individual should be denied a promotion simply based on the color of their skin. ... The Supreme Court today reminded all courts and governments that equal justice under the law means refusing to tip the scale in favor of one race over another."