Ricci Reinforces Civil Rights Act of 1964

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Jul 02, 2009 1:21 PM
Michael Barone gets it right with his analysis of the post-Ricci fallout, saying the Supreme Court's ruling is a reinforcement of the true spirit of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
While five justices flatly rejected Sotomayor's ruling, even the four dissenters wouldn't have let stand her ruling allowing the results of a promotion exam to be set aside because no black firefighter had a top score.

...Ricci is also something else: a riveting lesson in political sociology, thanks to the concurring opinion by Justice Samuel Alito. It shows how a combination of vote-hungry politicians and local political agitators -- you might call them community organizers -- worked with the approval of elite legal professionals like Sotomayor to employ racial quotas and preferences in defiance of the words of the Civil Rights Act.
David Broder expands on that idea, saying racial discrimination isn't as big a deal as it was in the previous generation. The implicit assumption with Ricci is that
...society has largely healed itself and does not need the race-conscious remedies that the previous generation of politicians thought necessary.

If that reading of the court's majority is correct, then two things are clear. Judge Sonia Sotomayor will certainly challenge the prevailing view if she is confirmed by the Senate to join that bench. And over a longer period of years, President Obama is likely to find himself in conflict with the court on the question of race.