Supreme Court Reverse: Overturns Sotomayor Ruling Ignoring Firefighter Discrimination Claim

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In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the white firefighters in the Ricci v. DeStefano case, overturning a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling signed by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

The high profile case involved charges of reverse discrimination after a test for promotion in the New Haven, Conn., fire department was thrown out when white test-takers performed much better than their black counterparts. Sotomayor upheld New Haven’s decision to dismiss the test results, and her controversial ruling has been frequently discussed in the context of her Supreme Court nomination.

The lead plaintiff in the case is Frank Ricci, who has been a firefighter at the New Haven Fire Department for 11 years. Firefighter Frank Ricci gave up a second job to use time to study for the test. Because he has dyslexia, he paid an acquaintance $1,000 to read his textbooks on to audiotapes. Firefighter Ricci also made flashcards, took practice tests, worked with a study group, and participated in mock interviews. His commitment to studying resulted in him ranking the 6th highest score, among firefighters who took the test. The city of New Haven discarded the test results to avoid an anticipated Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII disparate impact lawsuit brought by minority firefighters.

Time will tell if today’s United States Supreme Court reversal of the New Haven Connecticut firefighter case will affect Sotomayor’s confirmation. Democrats have set her confirmation hearings to begin on July 13 so the Senate can confirm the judge by August 6, before Congress takes its month-long summer recess. Sonia Sotomayor, 54, a Princeton and Yale Law School graduate, needs Senate confirmation before she can sit as the first Hispanic and third woman Supreme Court justice when the United States Supreme Court begins a new term on October 5, 2009.

Read the full background on the The Ricci v. DeStefano Lawsuit here …

From the United State Supreme Court … Slip Opinion
6/29/09 07-1428 Ricci v. DeStefano [PDF] is an Amazon Associate website, which means that a small percentage of your purchases gets paid to at no extra cost to you. When you use the search boxes above, any Amazon banner ad, or any product associated with an Amazon banner on this website, you help pay expenses related to maintaining and creating new services and ideas for a resourceful website. See more info at