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Supreme Court rules in favor of white firefighters in Employment Discrimination Case

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The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, endorsed during her role as an appeals court judge.

In Ricci v. DeStefano, twenty white firefighters accused New Haven of employment discrimination when the city scrapped the results of an exam administered for promotions. Frank Ricci was one of those twenty men who had passed the test, and had also spent money on study aids because of his dyslexia. The city alleged that they dismissed the results of the exam to avoid a lawsuit from minorities because no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to receive promotions based on the results.

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority’s opinion and was joined by Justice Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito. Justice Ginsburg read her dissenting opinion from the bench, questioning the fairness of the test. She was joined in dissent by Justices Breyer, Stevens and Souter. This ruling will most certainly be a topic at Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing next month. While reversing the decision of Sonia Sotomayor and her 2nd Circuit Colleagues, Justice Kennedy’s opinion admitted that this was "a difficult inquiry" and that the Court’s holding today helped to clarify how Title VII operates in discrimination cases.