I his op-ed in today's Spokesman Review, Charles Krauthammer complains about the unfairness of a decision against Frank Ricci and tries to make Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor look like an ungrateful product of affirmative action who lacks empathy for the common man. Krauthammer presents a compelling and sympathetic story, but the facts of the decision belie his claims about Sotomayor.
I thought I'd read the decision (PDF file) and see for myself. It's not particularly exciting or riveting and fortunately it's only six pages in length. Each argument is addressed and the reasoning for each finding is clearly explained as the court affirms the District Court's decision.
We affirm, for the reasons stated in the thorough, thoughtful, and well-reasoned opinion of the court below. Ricci v. DeStefano, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73277, 2006 WL 2828419 (D.Conn., Sept. 28, 2006). In this case, the Civil Service Board found itself in the unfortunate position of having no good alternatives. We are not unsympathetic to the plaintiffs' expression of frustration. Mr. Ricci, for example, who is dyslexic, made intensive efforts that appear to have resulted in his scoring highly on one of the exams, only to have it invalidated. But it simply does not follow that he has a viable Title VII claim. To the contrary, because the Board, in refusing to validate the exams, was simply trying to fulfill its obligations under Title VII when confronted with test results that had a disproportionate racial impact, its actions were protected.
What they were ruling on was the application of Title VII. Employers are required by federal law to consider the racial impact of their hiring and promotion procedures in order to prevent intentional and inadvertent discrimination. Essentially, Ricci's complaint was that the city discriminated by complying with Title VII.
If you do read the decision feel free point out the parts that support Krauthammer's claims.