June 29, 2009

STATEMENT: PLF lauds Ricci Supreme Court ruling

By Damien M. Schiff Senior Attorney

PLF lauds Ricci ruling, which can help PLF's current lawsuits against San Francisco and Caltrans public-works contracting quotas 
 
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that New Haven, CT. violated federal civil rights law when it scrapped the results of a firefighters promotional exam because the top scorers did not meet the city's preferred racial mix.

Pacific Legal Foundation submitted an amicus brief in the case, and PLF Principal Attorney Sharon Browne issued this statement today:

"New Haven's exam was an objective test to measure skills and ability to do crucial firefighting work.   By throwing out the results, city officials were showing more concern with applicants' skin color than with who is best qualified to provide emergency services and perform other vital work of firefighters.   By putting race above public safety, the city was violating federal civil rights law, as the Supreme Court majority correctly recognized.
 
"Significantly, in ruling against the city, the Court majority poured some needed cold water on so-called disparity analysis as a justification for race-conscious government policies.   Specifically, the court said that a statistical disparity between the percentage of a racial group in the community, and the percentage of that group in a particular government job, does not, by itself, provide the kind of evidence of discrimination that is needed to justify a race-conscious policy as an anti-discrimination measure.
 
"The Court's skepticism of disparity analysis is very important, because it will strengthen current legal challenges to some high-profile racial-quota policies, including in San Francisco and at the California Department of Transportation. Both the City of San Francisco and the California Department of Transportation are trying to justify using racial quotas in public-works contracts by citing statistical disparities as supposed evidence of past discrimination that needs to be remedied.   PLF attorneys are challenging both of these quota programs in court right now, and the Ricci ruling adds further power to PLF's litigation."

Contact: PLF Principal Attorney Sharon L. Browne (916) 419-7111, slb@pacificlegal.org

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