April 28th, 2009
03:44 PM ET

High court asked to untangle reverse discrimination case

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Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer

The Supreme Court's conservative majority expressed varying degrees of concern Wednesday over a civil rights case brought by 20 firefighters, most of them white, who claim reverse discrimination in promotions.

The suit was filed in response to New Haven, Connecticut, officials' decision to throw out results of promotional exams that they said left too few minorities qualified.

At issue is whether the city intentionally discriminated, in violation of both federal law and the Constitution's equal protection clause.

The high court is being asked to decide whether there is a continued need for special treatment for minorities, or whether enough progress has been made to make existing laws obsolete, especially in a political atmosphere where an African-American occupies the White House.

As is true in many hot-button social issues, Wednesday's arguments fell along familiar ideological lines, with most justices expressing clear views on when race considerations are proper to ensure a diverse workplace.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Race in America • Supreme Court
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Sean

    Where is AG Eric Holden when you need him?? Holden's speech about how there is racism in America and we need to confront it calls for him to act.

    This is discrimination. People passed the test fair and square. It's discrimination to tell them they can't be promoted because of their color. There is no such thing as saying a test discriminates against a race.. the questions are in English. If you wanted to pass you would have studied harder.

    April 29, 2009 at 8:58 am |
  2. Derrick

    Wow! Would someone who is not African-American please take a stab at explaining the best remedy for the years of intentional discriminatory practices that INTENTIONALLY kept blacks out of positions of leadership in the public and private sector. Should blacks just 'get over it'? Get real. This country still discriminates against blacks and Native Americans, and never wants to deal with it's role in the poor passage rates NON-WHITES experience on standardized tests. Perhaps ignoring the high passage rates of the 20 in question is not the answer. But American may want to consider her role in the conditions of ALL of her people, and begin to mend what SHE has broken.

    April 29, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  3. Art

    It's to bad we still judge the book by it's cover. When I was in college I had many tests. If I didn't study for those tests I never would have passed them. Are all tests created equal? Probably not.

    April 29, 2009 at 6:09 am |
  4. Anne Eckert

    The test results should be enough to promote. There must be a reason for test scores not being up to par. This should be a wake up call to ALL taking the test. We have all heard that there should be no racial profiling in other areas and there should be none in test taking either.

    April 29, 2009 at 2:45 am |
  5. A

    There is no such thing as reverse racism point blank!!!! As it stands it's still hard to be a woman, minority, gay, or handicapped and don't give me the we have a black president nonsense. 1 to 43 wow what an impact!!!Those white fire fighters live the white privilege so they need to count their blessings and shut up. It's still pays to be white even in the year 2009! That's just the reality of the situation!

    April 29, 2009 at 2:41 am |
  6. Avan Makai

    How can we say there is no racism at play here? They even have a special name for when it is just a different group being held back by quotas that inspire racism. This is racism, pure and simple. Fully qualified individuals are denied promotions that they have earned because of the color of their skin. I suppose if they did promote a black, hispanic, or middle-eastern into the position, racism would be cried because one person is still going to be getting a promotion for, you guessed it, the color of the skin.

    April 29, 2009 at 2:40 am |
  7. Balconyjumper

    Sweet, when my house burns down I'll be OK with the PC lieutenant is in charge. Hey, at least he/she is a role model, actual work results be damned!

    April 29, 2009 at 2:37 am |
  8. jen

    Why is it that if that firefighter were black it woul most certainly be considered discrimination, but since he is white it isn't?

    April 29, 2009 at 2:36 am |
  9. Robert Daniels

    This isn't "reverse" discrimination, it's simply DISCRIMINATION.

    April 29, 2009 at 2:35 am |
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