Court: White Firefighters Unfairly Denied Promotion


White firefighters in New Haven, Ct., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, the Supreme Court ruled today, 5 to 4. The decision reversed a ruling that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge. The Associated Press said the case “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 for the majority, which included Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. 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.”

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