June 29, 2009

June 29, 2009 | News Releases on Legal Issues

Heritage Legal Scholars Comment on the Ricci Decision and Sotomayor

June 29, 2009 - In today's decision on Ricci v. DeStefano, the Supreme Court rejected reverse discrimination as practiced by New Haven, CT. The city had denied promotion to deserving firefighters because of their race. Today's ruling is a telling blow against invidious racial discrimination.

"This decision strengthens our protections against discrimination and shows that those laws protect all Americans," said Ed Meese, chairman of The Heritage Foundation's Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.

A former Attorney General, Meese added, "Our Constitution guarantees equal treatment under the law regardless of race. Quotas and preferential treatment based on race and ethnicity are unfair and deny equal treatment. The Supreme Court deserves praise for taking a stand against this type of discrimination."

The decision overturned a ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, "The Supreme Court has completely repudiated the actions of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in this case," said Robert Alt, deputy director of the center. "Judge Sotomayor tried to bury the case, not even bothering to address the constitutional issues that the Supreme Court found meritorious. It raises serious concerns about her legal judgment and particularly her evident bias in favor of racial and ethnic group preferences."

Alt added, "We are fortunate the Supreme Court reversed Sotomayor's lower court decision that would have allowed employers to engage in discrimination as long they were discriminating in favor of certain racial and ethnic groups."

Hans von Spakovsky, a Legal Scholar at Heritage and former Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, applauded the Supreme Court's ruling as well.

"The Supreme Court reached exactly the right result," he said.

"If they had upheld Judge Sotomayor's view, it would have been a complete betrayal of our basic legal and Constitutional requirement that all Americans are entitled to equal treatment. Employers, particularly governments, do not have a right to discriminate based on race."

Von Spakovsky added that, in his opinion, "Judge Sotomayor's willingness in the Ricci case to allow her admitted personal biases towards certain racial and ethnic groups to affect her judging raises serious questions about her qualifications to sit on the Supreme Court."

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