View Full Version : SCOTUS Overturns Sotomayer Firefighter Case...Awkward.

06-29-2009, 11:05 AM
This is gonna make that first SCOTUS BBQ awkward to say the least.

Thoughts on the actual decision.

Link (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31609275/ns/politics-white_house/)

Supreme Court rules for white firefighters

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Monday that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge.

New Haven was wrong to scrap a promotion exam because no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to be made lieutenants or captains based on the results, the court said Monday in a 5-4 decision. The city said that it had acted to avoid a lawsuit from minorities.

The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide, potentially limiting the circumstances in which employers can be held liable for decisions when there is no evidence of intentional discrimination against minorities.

"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," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his opinion for the court. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Dissenting opinion
In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the white firefighters "understandably attract this court's sympathy. But they had no vested right to promotion. Nor have other persons received promotions in preference to them."

Justices Stephen Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens signed onto Ginsburg's dissent, which she read aloud in court Monday.

Kennedy's opinion made only passing reference to the work of Sotomayor and the other two judges on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who upheld a lower court ruling in favor of New Haven.

But the appellate judges have been criticized for producing a cursory opinion that failed to deal with "indisputably complex and far from well-settled" questions, in the words of another appeals court judge, Sotomayor mentor Jose Cabranes.

"This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal," Cabranes said, in a dissent from the full 2nd Circuit's decision not to hear the case.

Other cases
The court has failed to decide on another high-profile case involving whether a scathing documentary about Hillary Rodham Clinton that was shown during the presidential race should be regulated as if it were a campaign ad.

The case was expected to be one of the last decisions of the term for the high court, but Chief Justice John Roberts announced that the court would hear arguments again on Sept. 9.

A conservative not-for-profit group wanted to air ads for the movie in Democratic primary states and also make the film available to cable subscribers on demand without complying with federal campaign finance law.

But lower courts have said the movie looked and sounded like a long campaign ad, and therefore should be regulated like one.

At the time of "Hillary: The Movie," the former New York senator was competing with Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. She is now secretary of state.

The justices also ruled Monday that state attorneys general can't issue their own subpoenas in investigations against national banks.

However, the high court said that an attorney general can get a court to issue subpoenas in an investigation into those financial institutions.

The state of New York wanted the Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court decision that blocks states from investigating the lending practices of national banks with branches within its borders. It was supported by the other 49 states.