The Supreme Court sets Civil Rights back decades (Updated)

Posted in Opinion by yliza on June 29, 2009

Today’s Supreme Court decision in the New Haven Firefighter’s case is a huge blow to the civil rights movement.  Tim Wise says it better than I ever could:

A Ricci victory would throw civil rights jurisprudence into utter chaos, as well. In effect, such a result would mean that the court had said employers must take actions that produce disparate racial impact against people of color, or else be sued for disparate treatment of whites. In other words, they must violate one part of Title VII in order to not violate another portion of it. That such a holding is repugnant to the legislative intent of those who framed the law should be obvious. For the Supreme Court’s conservatives, who claim to be “strict constructionists,” beholden to legislative intent, to find for Ricci and thereby shred the framer’s intent for Title VII, would make a mockery of their entire judicial philosophy, and demonstrate the disingenuousness of their claims to believe in it.

This decision smacks of politics, as well.  The Right is already bludgeoning Sotomayor with it.  With what we have observed about the Republican party and how they walk in lockstep, do you really believe politics had nothing to do with today’s decision?

The worst part is that, with all the spin and politics surrounding this case, the central issue is getting lost.  Clearly, the City of New Haven thought the exam in question was faulty and not an accurate indicator of who should earn a promotion.  It was their intent to rectify this and come up with a better exam.  They should have been applauded for this, but instead the cry of “reverse racism” went up and people lost their damned minds.

This is White Privilege writ large, and now there is a legal precedent for it.  Any government employer attempting to be more inclusive is now open to reverse racism lawsuits.  How is that supposed to help race relations in our country?

The Senate’s recent apology for slavery rings very hollow today.

Update:  Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com weighed in on the subject (emphasis mine):

For all the chatter about “judicial activism” and that dreadful Roberts metaphor of “a neutral umpire calling balls and strikes,” it is so striking how frequently conservative judges invalidate policies which conservatives dislike as a political matter.  Here we have the conservative wing of the Court declaring illegal the employment decisions of local government officials, who used a political approach — diversity — which conservatives dislike on policy grounds.  So often, the outcomes of the allegedly neutral conservative judges are completely consistent with (and aggressively advance) the political preferences of conservatives (Bush v. Gore being only the most obvious example).  Indeed, few things are rarer than conservatives Justices invalidating policies that conservatives like politically, or upholding policies they despise — the true test for whether one applies the law independently of political and outcome preferences.

Hardly a record worth bragging about.  But conservatives are always too busy pointing out everyone else’s flaws to see their own.

2 Responses

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  1. Balontang said, on July 6, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    It’s still better than here in Indonesia, where civil rights are ignored. The majority group wants to be respected, but never respect the minorities.

  2. Black Diaspora said, on October 8, 2009 at 1:45 am

    You haven’t been around for awhile. I like your voice, and you express well. I wrote some where else: where it appears that blacks discriminate to right previous injustices, blacks will lose.

    We lose because whites sit in the seat of judicial authority (as majorities) all the way to the supreme court.

    What’s that old saying, if the law is stacked against you….

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