On Wednesday, April 22, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Ricci v. DeStefano. The Supreme Court here considers the possibly discriminatory effect of trying to avoid disparate impact liability under Title VII. The petitioners, New Haven firefighters who qualified for promotion under specially-devised promotion exams, filed suit against the City of New Haven in federal District Court because the City failed to certify the results of the exams due to the race of the successful applicants and a fear of liability for a disparate impact suit by minorities who did not qualify to be promoted. The District Court granted summary judgment for the City holding that it was not obligated to certify the exam results. The Second Circuit affirmed this ruling and voted 7-6 against rehearing the case en banc over a spirited dissent. The Supreme Court now considers whether the City of New Haven committed racial discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause or Title VII by rejecting the results of an otherwise valid civil service exam because of the racial distribution of the results. Michael Rosman, General Counsel for the Center for Individual Rights, discusses the case.
Oral Argument - April 22, 2009: