Through hard work, education, and the support of her family, Judge Sotomayor has achieved so much, and she should be congratulated on her many successes.Indeed, this week's vision of America's first African-American president standing next to its first Hispanic female nominee to the highest court tells us just how far we have come as a nation on matters of race and gender.
But on the other hand, we cannot deny how far we may still have to go, such as in the matter of Ricci v. DeStefano, a case which Judge Sotomayor helped decide in the lower courts and which is currently being weighed by the Supreme Court.
The case concerns a complaint of reverse discrimination brought by several firefighters, nineteen white and one Hispanic, who successfully passed the promotion test in New Haven, Conn. Their test results were tossed aside because none of the African-Americans who also took the test fared well enough to achieve promotion.
What is most shocking about the city's decision here is that the results were discarded even though this test was specifically designed to remove any racial bias in the testing process. The objections to the test are solely based on the results, not in any way on the process or the exam itself. This is simply not the American way.
The lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci, was rightly upset by the city of New Haven's decision not to promote anyone within the department, regardless of their performance in the testing process, rather than face criticism, and possible legal action, because no African-Americans would be promoted in that particular testing cycle.
As a member of the federal appeals court, Judge Sotomayor joined the majority opinion confirming that none of the firefighters who passed the test were to be promoted.
I will leave it to legal commentators and scholars to debate and decide whether Judge Sotomayor took an "activist" approach in the case, or whether she dutifully followed 2nd Circuit Court precedent pertaining to similar cases.