[Guest post by DRJ]
ABC News reports the Supreme Court ruled today that the white New Haven firefighters were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing an appellate decision by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. The firefighters’ attorney believes the case will have a significant impact on jobs that require an occupational test:
“I think the import of the decision is that cities cannot bow to politics and pressure and lobbying by special interest groups, or act to achieve racial quotas,” said Karen Torre, the attorney for the firefighters. “If the test is job-related, especially in a dangerous occupation, then the fact that more African Americans pass, or more Hispanics pass, or more whites pass, isn’t sufficient grounds to ignore the results of an occupational test.”
The decision split 5-4 along ideological grounds. ScotusBlog has links to the opinion, concurrences, and dissent.
Ilya Shapiro @ Cato notes that Ginsburg’s dissent talks of her sympathy for the white firefighters, which is reminiscent of the empathy Barack Obama says he wants in his judicial nominees. Here is Justice Alito’s response (at p. 54):
“The dissent grants that petitioners’ situation is “unfortunate” and that they “understandably attract this Court’s sympathy.” Post, at 1, 39. But “sympathy” is not what petitioners have a right to demand. What they have a right to demand is evenhanded enforcement of the law—of Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on race. And that is what, until today’s decision, has been denied them.”
I agree with Shapiro and Justice Alito: Americans deserve equal protection, not empathy.