Everyday Ethics

supremecourt.jpgIt’s hard for someone like me, with no legal background, to understand the intricacies of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision
about the New Haven, Conn. firefighters’ discrimination (or so-called  ‘reverse discrimination’) lawsuit.


Obviously, there’s more going on here than just a test result that was tossed out in fear of a lawsuit. (Or is there?) But on the surface of it, the court’s decision seems fair to me–how could the fire department develop a test to determine who gets promoted, and then throw out the results when they didn’t like them?


The argument in the case, I understand, has to do with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and “disparate impacts,” meaning the department could be open to lawsuits because it might be argued that non-whites were unfairly left behind. The court, as far as I can puzzle out, basically ruled that it’s illegal to avoid potential discrimination suits by committing actual discrimination. Somehow, this just makes a lot of sense to me.


Yet I’m uneasy, not least because I tend to be one of those liberals who side staunchly with the Bader Ginsburg’s of the world. And I’ve been reading that the ruling could make it harder for other types of discrimination lawsuits to go forward in future, which is troubling. Am I missing the point? (I probably am.)


Can someone please explain this situation to me? Share an opposing opinion? I’d love to hear some thoughts on this controversial issue, not least because it’s sure to affect Sonia Sotomayor’s upcoming Supreme Court nomination hearings.


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