The Supreme Court sided with the 18 New Haven firefighters who claimed (17 white and 1 Hispanic) who had their promotions thrown out by the city because the city feared claims of discrimination.
In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the city violated Title VII, giving credence to the idea that reverse discrimination is not a protected action.
Obama’s nominee to the Court, Sonia Sotomayer, sided against the firefighters on the Court of Appeals.
From Justice Kennedy’s opinion
“Whatever the City’s ultimate aim—however well intentioned or benevolent it might have seemed—the City made its employment decision because of race. The City rejected the test results solely because the higher scoring candidates were white.”
“The purpose of Title VII “is to promote hiring on the basis of job qualifications, rather than on the basis of race or color.” Griggs, 401 U. S., at 434.”
“The dissent grants that petitioners’ situation is “unfortunate” and that they “understandably attract this Court’s sympathy.” Post, at 1, 39. But “sympathy” is not what petitioners have a right to demand. What they have a right to demand is evenhanded enforcement of the law—of Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on race. And that is what, until today’s decision, has been denied them.”