Monday, June 29, 2009

Ricci First Take (updated with working link)

The Court ruled 5-4 that the New Haven Fire Dep't violated Title VII by throwing out the test. The Court created a safe haven against Title VII disparate impact claims to avoid the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't problem. I'll post at length on the case later in the week to accompany the FindLaw column I'll now set about writing.

The opinion is available here .

Posted by Mike Dorf

10 comments:

AF said...

Actually, the Court rules that New Haven violated Title VII and didn't reach the EP Clause.

Michael C. Dorf said...

Yikes! Post is now corrected.

egarber said...

The EP omission is what struck me in reading the first news accounts. If indeed there was no equal protection ruling, does that mean Congress could theoretically update the law to support the city's position?

Michael C. Dorf said...

I've now read most of the opinion. (Sorry, working on other stuff too.) Kennedy says the Court does "not hold that meeting the strong-basis-in-evidence standard would satisfy the Equal Protection Clause in a future case." So a challenge to an amended version of the statute might succeed.

michael a. livingston said...

I like the result, mostly, but I'm troubled by two aspects:

1. The reliance on tests--I do very well on standardized tests but I'd probably be a poor firefighter. Did the (white) candidates really do better on the best because they are more skilled, or because they are better at studying for and taking standardized tests? The opinion discusses this issue at length, but not in a really satisfactory way: the majority seems to assume the test was valid and the dissent that it wasn't (or not enough so). Which leads me to . . .

2. The lack of real discussion between the two sides in the case. You have a rich factual situation, there are all sorts of conceivable details that might have swung people one way or another, but when it's over everyone votes more or less exactly the way you would expect them to. And we're criticizing the Guardian Council in Iran for being politicized?

Call me naive, but I'd like to see someone on the court who actually surprised us now and then. Where are Profs. Dorf and Colb when you need them?

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