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Monday, April 20, 2009

Supreme Court "Reverse Discrim." Case

Keep your eyes and ears open this week, as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear oral aguments starting (and ending?) on a case involving firefighters, promotions, and "basic skills tests" in New Haven, Conn. (home of Yale U., no?) Anyway, some whites are pissed because they didn't get promotions they were "entitled to" as a result of getting the best test scores. (See full story at and elsewhere) Problem is, New Haven's population is 44 % white, 36 % black, 24% Hispanic. But at the time of the 2003 test, 86% of the captains were white. The department may have messed up if they gave the impression that the test would be the sole criteria for promotion decisions. They obviously have a legitimate interest in making leadership more reflective of the community it serves. And even if the test were not inherently biased, if it's measuring skills that are taught in informal, everyday settings by more experienced, higher up firefighters, we know that since 86% of existing captains were white, they are much more likely to choose out people of their own race, with whom they feel more naturally comfortable, to spend time with mentoring in an informal, everyday way. That's the way I see it. We'll see how the case goes. One source, the Wall Street Journal ( sees this as a "last chance" for the Bush-dominated court to make a conservative statement against Affirmative Action before Supreme Court retirements bring a leftward swing to the court.

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