Is Ricci Being Smeared?

by Melissa Bailey | July 15, 2009 7:56 AM | | Comments (48)

IMG_4252.JPGWashington, D.C. — (Updated 10:18 a.m.) As firefighter Frank Ricci arrived in the nation’s capital for his moment in the spotlight, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch came to the his defense against an alleged “smear campaign.”

Ricci is set to take center stage Thursday as a witness against Judge Sonia Sotomayor in her Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The country will be watching.

Ricci and fellow New Haven firefighter Ben Vargas (pictured) were inside the committee hearing room Wednesday morning as questioning of Sotomayor continued.

Ricci and Vargas were among a group of mostly white New Haven firefighters who filed suit against the city for tossing out promotional exam results because African-Americans performed poorly. The case, Ricci v. DeStefano, has become a prime weapon in Republicans’ attack of her impartiality on issues of race. Sotomayor sat on a three-judge appeals panel that dismissed the case; the Supreme Court overturned that ruling in June.

As Ricci becomes a national symbol of the deserving candidate whose opportunities were vanquished by alleged reverse discrimination, attention has focused on a fact that complicates his case. Recent reports revealed that Ricci originally got his job on the New Haven force through his own discrimination complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He claimed he was denied employment on the basis of his dyslexia.

orrinhatch.JPGIn interviews with the Independent Tuesday, two Republican committee members, Sen. Hatch of Utah (pictured) and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said Ricci is being unfairly criticized.

“This is a good man who brought his case in court and won a big, big-time case that set new law in very important areas, both disparate impact and disparate treatment,” said Hatch.

“He deserves a lot of credit, but they’re trying to make it seem like he’s just a pussyfoot” who complains when he doesn’t get promoted or hired, said Hatch.

He said Ricci’s is the victim of “smearing.”

In a separate conversation, Sen. Cornyn also jumped to Ricci’s defense.

“I very much regret that he’s found himself the victim of a character assassination,” Cornyn said.

Karen Torre, who represents Ricci and the New Haven 20 in the discrimination lawsuit, agreed.

“Yes, it is obvious that the liberal attack machine is in full gear,” Torre wrote in an email statement Tuesday evening.

“But honestly, as much as I think it appalling, we could not care less about what these people say, because no one else will,” she wrote. “I represent guys who run into burning buildings to save others. If these idiots want to attack these guys, the mud’s on them.”

Twice in two days, Hatch has used his limited speaking minutes on the Senate Judiciary Committee floor to bring up the notion that Ricci is being smeared. Both times, Hatch stopped short of directly laying blame: Instead he said that it was “rumored” that the “extreme-left” group People For the American Way had “smeared” the firefighter.

Hatch, former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is familiar with the process: This is his 12th time participating in a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee.

During a break in the senatorial grilling, Hatch was asked what he meant by Ricci being “smeared.”

“I’m not quite sure,” replied Hatch. “I just heard that they were smearing. Plus I’ve seen some comments about trying to make his dyslexia an issue because of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

“You’re looking at the guy that put the Americans with Disabilities Act through, so I didn’t think it was very fair what they were trying to do to him,” said Hatch. The senator last year co-sponsored an amendment to the ADA that “ensures that all Americans with disabilities are protected from discrimination.”

IMG_4196.jpgIn a separate interview, People For the American Way (PFAW) Executive Vice President Marge Baker (pictured) said all her group did was alert members of the media to an apparent contradiction in Ricci’s past.

“What we’ve done is pointed out that, in the past, Mr. Ricci has used the civil rights laws, in particular the Americans with Disabilities Act, to get hired by the New Haven Fire Department.” That fact “puts into context” Ricci’s discrimination claims in Ricci v. DeStefano. In that case, he claimed he was being denied opportunities because the city, fearing a lawsuit under a similar civil rights law, refused to certify the results of a promotional test.

“The point is, you can’t have it both ways,” said Baker.

The senator was asked if highlighting an apparent contradiction between the two discrimination suits constituted a smear.

“Those cases were about discrimination against him. He won both cases. So I think he comes out of it looking very, very good,” said Hatch. To suggest that the cases are “some sort of privilege or benefit to him, is smearing the guy. I don’t think there’s much question about that. They’re doing it in a pretty sophisticated smear.”

“It’s clearly an attempt to try and belittle him, and I think that’s wrong, and I call that smearing,” Hatch said. He added that he didn’t know for sure who was behind the alleged smear, but he had read that it was PFAW.

Baker dismissed the charge.

“With all due respect to Senator Hatch, he’s attacking a straw man,” she said in a press statement Tuesday. “It is not a smear to point out than an individual used the law to protect his interests. It’s time to get past this distraction and have an honest discussion about the importance of anti-discrimination laws for all people.”

Another PFAW member countered that this TV ad is what a real smear looks like.

“The Impact On Real People”

Ricci and about 15 New Haven firefighters arrived in D.C. Tuesday, according to Torre.

Sen. Cornyn said he expects to meet Wednesday with Ricci as well as Lt. Ben Vargas, the one Hispanic plaintiff among the New Haven 20 who filed the reverse discrimination lawsuit. Ricci and Vargas were selected by the Republicans to serve as witnesses to cast doubt over Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination. They’re set to testify Thursday on a panel of witnesses alongside New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, among others. Yale Law School professor Kate Stith is also set to appear: click here to read list of outside witness panels, released Tuesday.

IMG_4120.jpgCornyn (pictured), one of the committee’s most outspoken critics against Sotomayor, was asked one question that’s been raised by critics: Why are the firefighters being brought before the committee when they are not legal experts?

“One of the questions is what’s the impact on real people here of what we’re talking about here,” said Cornyn. “I think they demonstrate what the impact is on real people.”

Hatch said Ricci is being called because, “let’s face it, that’s the focal point of this whole nomination, is whether or not she will interpret the laws the way they ought to be interpreted, and whether she did right in that particular case.”

Ricci “had to go through a world of harm, a world of hurt, and a world of expense to get his rights vindicated,” he added.

Connecticut Group Distances Itself

As Ricci prepared for his star performance, a Connecticut group sought to distance itself from the firefighter. The Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health wrote an urgent missive to the Senate Judiciary Committee to deny any affiliation between Ricci and the group. Ricci describes himself as “Director of Fire Safety at ConnectiCOSH” and is listed as a witness appearing on behalf of ConnectiCOSH.

“We wish to make clear that Mr. Frank Ricci is not speaking on behalf of our organization before your committee regarding the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court,” reads the letter, signed by Steve Schrag and Judy Sparer.

Ricci “has participated in ConnectiCOSH activities to strengthen workers’ rights to refuse dangerous work and some fire safety issues,” but he has no current elected or appointed position with the group, the letter stated.

Torre declined to respond to the group’s remarks.

Past stories on fire department promotions and the Ricci case:

Sotomayor Speaks On Ricci
Ricci Takes Center Stage
Watley: I’d Have Promoted Ricci
Firebirds, NAACP: Ricci Won’t Stop Us
“If You Work Hard You Can Succeed In America”
Was He The Culprit?
Supreme Court Overturns City On Ricci
On Page 25, A Hint
Minority Firefighters Vow Post-Ricci Unity
Ricci Ruling Won’t End Quest
Ricci, Sotomayor Brand DeStefano
Firefighter Case Reveals Surprise Obama Stand
Justices Zero In On Race-Based Distinctions
Rights Groups Back Black Firefighters
The Supreme Stakes: Title VII’s Future
Dobbs v. Bolden
Latino Group Backs White Firefighters
Black Firefighters: Ricci Case Poses Grave Threat
NAACP Backs City In Firefighter Case
Paging Justice Kennedy
Fire Inspectors Promoted
Fire Inspector List Approved
U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Firefighters’ Case
Fire Promotions Examined in Supreme Court







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Comments

Posted by: lance | July 15, 2009 10:09 AM

if ricci's alleged claim of a discrimination against dyslexics is the same as blacks raising a discrimination claim...does that make being black a learning disability (as dyslexia is)?

Posted by: anon | July 15, 2009 10:41 AM

Fantastic article!

Posted by: Donna | July 15, 2009 11:05 AM

If Republicans want to blame anyone for this supposed "smearing" of Frank Ricci, they should look to themselves. After all, they are the ones exploiting the man by calling him as a witness in order to score their cheap political points back home. The fact is, Frank Ricci has absolutely NOTHING to contribute to these proceedings. He does not know Sotomayor, he has never worked with her, he has never argued a case before her. Heck, he's probably never even met her. The entire sum of what he can add is "She contributed to a ruling that I did not like." Nothing more. And yet, he's allowing himself to be trotted out there. That makes him fair game for the other side.

Posted by: tony | July 15, 2009 11:38 AM

Ricci has dyslexia so what he still passed the test and had to work harder because of this...
He is a role model... not these drug addicted sports figures..

Posted by: Resident | July 15, 2009 12:12 PM

Wouldn't surprise me at all if Ricci et al is being smeared. ...

Posted by: Jilli | July 15, 2009 12:20 PM

What smear campaign?

This is just more made up drama by aging white men (bigots) that are watching their power dissolve into the hands of (deserving) minorities.

Why would Ricci even be a part of these hearings? Ms. Sotomayor has handled 3000 cases in a 17 year career, and this is the nonsense the republicans continue to peddle. Are that that intellectually impaired, or are they just playing to their base that obviously is.

Posted by: Caroline | July 15, 2009 12:45 PM

Sotomayor is not supposed to use empathy in her position as judge, but she is supposed to have empathy for Ricci to understand the "world of hurt" that he went through, and moreover see the impact of law on "real people"? I'm so confused. Is empathy only reserved for white males?

Posted by: C Cook | July 15, 2009 12:54 PM

"what's the impact on real people"?

How appropriate a question. When the conservatives went onto the Supreme Court, we got a court that (in my opinion) selected G W Bush for president over the man who should have won the election. Then we got an illegal war, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and the deregulation of the financial sector leading to the worst economic meltdown in modern memory.

Yes Senator, tell me what the impact on real people is when you politicize the court?

Posted by: jaid bethea | July 15, 2009 12:57 PM

Okay, so one white man has his rights abrogated and the world stops while minorities have their rights abrogated every day and their issues do not get heard in the district, appellate, State Supreme Court or the nation's Supreme Court. Now he shows up at the hearings like some raped plantiff and we are suppose to stop breathing because a panel of 9 vote 5 to 4 to make new law opposed to upholding precedent. Who are the real activist judges-- their right wing- republican leaning jurists thats who. Give me a fricking break

Posted by: hads | July 15, 2009 12:58 PM

Two things: First, it is curious that the same people who keep bringing up Sotomayor's "wise Latina woman" speech as proof she will rely on her emotions and personal history rather than the law, will present as witnesses the firefighters who have no knowledge of her jurisprudence except for their own personal history and emotional discrimination case. Secondly, as for her decision in Ricci being overturned let us turn to Senator Hatch's own words: they "won a big, big-time case that set new law in very important areas, both disparate impact and disparate treatment," said Hatch. The Supreme Court "set new law" in its activist ruling, not Sotomayor. Sens. Cornyn and Hatch are completely wrong in their assertions.

Posted by: ROBN | July 15, 2009 1:10 PM

Just curious....

Since the Ricci case was discrimination case brought by individuals against the city, and since these individuals testimony really don't have to do with official policy of the NHFD, doesn't appearing before Congress in uniform seem wierd? I tried to dig up the fire comission policy on appearing in uniform but it doesn't appear to be posted (by law it should be printed and available to the public).

Posted by: James FP | July 15, 2009 1:29 PM

Lest I be accused of ad hominem attacks, and just in case Lance actually does believe the latently racist ... he writes, if his statement is true, then dyslexia is a racial group. So by extension, then, a racial group is the same as a learning disorder. Clearly, that's wrong.

The commonality between racial minorities and disabled person is that unfortunately, they both have histories of being discriminated against ...

Posted by: Angelo | July 15, 2009 1:38 PM

Caroline -

yes. According to the law of Jeff Sessions and others - Good when expressed by Samuel Alito. Compassionate when expressed by George Bush. Bad when expressed by Barack Obama. Rascist when expressed by Sonia Sotomayor. Also, unfair when Mr. Ricci feels pain, and when Italian-Americans like Alito suffer discrimination, but rascist when expressed by Latino women.

Posted by: roald | July 15, 2009 1:54 PM

In re:
"Posted by: lance | July 15, 2009 10:09 AM

if ricci's alleged claim of a discrimination against dyslexics is the same as blacks raising a discrimination claim...does that make being black a learning disability (as dyslexia is)?"

Lance - only if there is only one type of discrimination in this world.

Posted by: westvillecairns | July 15, 2009 2:38 PM

Everyone is missing the point here. The case was about the city being afraid it would get sued, so it decided to forego the usual impartial review of the test after the test results revealed that African Americans did poorly as compared to white and other firefighters. The review would have looked at what questions seemed to give the most problem to the test takers and what their relevance to the performance of the job as firefighter was. If the question had little relevance, or was found to be an overall problem question, every test takers would be given credit for it. Somehow because our city has no backbone and operates within the limits of who gets what votes for the Mayor, Frank Ricci is being trotted out as a whiner and a Republican lapdog trying to have it both ways.

Posted by: That Guy | July 15, 2009 4:15 PM

What and absolute disgrace to the City of New Haven, as the entire country is watching and bears witness to how our Mayor is scared of Rev. Boise Kimber.

So I ask how has Rev. Kimber become so mighty in influence over City Hall that we have become a national embarrassment. (Usually the embarrassment is localized re: How he and Peter Criscuolo circumvent the towing system)

Important questions need now be asked about the relationship between the Mayor and Rev. Kimber, if for no other reason than to remove the cloud of corruption that has settled above City Hall.

Where is the Board of Alderman's inquiry into his influence over City Hall? Where is the US Attorney or the Chief States Attorney? What does Kimber have on/or know about the Mayor that would illicit such political fear, and has that political fear influenced and subverted governmental decisions?

Not only has the City been embarrassed by Justice Alito's concurring opinion in Ricci, but now also the United States Senate Judiciary committee as well. Republican partisanship driven or not, this is an embarrassment to all of us. Even diehard City Hall loyalists must be tired of what the Kimber/Destefano relationship has wretched upon this City.


Posted by: James FP | July 15, 2009 4:17 PM

Oh boy...
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/07/new-haven-council-on-occupational-safety-despite-his-claims-were-not-affiliated-with-ricci.php

Looks like Ricci is a bit ethically challenged...

Posted by: Mike B | July 15, 2009 4:30 PM

The problem is the Republicans thought they could trot out "Frank the Fireman" in the same style they gave us "Joe the Plumber" and the public ain't buyin' it...

Posted by: Morris Cove | July 15, 2009 5:11 PM

I think most of you are missing the real point Firefighter Ricci, is not a lap dog for the Republican party, it's about an equal playing ground for all.

Sotomayor made a bad decision in the NHPD 20, case, and was blasted by the Supreme court in a 91 page decision. She also exspressed her mind set in the "Latina Woman" speech that she has since admitted was a play on words from a Judge Ginsburg speech several years ago, which was a poor choice, if a white male said that his experiences made him more qualified than any other minority group he would have been labled a racist and a biggot.

Equal playing ground should be the underlying point, and Sotomayor should be asked these important questions about the law, and her past poor choices.

Posted by: Firefighter Retired | July 15, 2009 5:17 PM

I would be worried working with a fellow firefighter with dyslexia. The hazardous material response info is written. The drugs we gave patients and their precriptions were labeled as were tags in circuit boxes that identified electrical circuits that needed to be shut off in burning buildings. We have had applicants who brought their lawyers to the phyical agility portion of our fire departments entrance exam. I would also be upset if they threw out any promotion list I had made

Posted by: Kate in Sw Fla | July 15, 2009 6:32 PM

Republipuke tricks. They want to point out how rulings affect people, and yet they say that only the law should matter, not "feelings." I swear, I could not have a lower regard for these hypocrits.

Posted by: citysavior [TypeKey Profile Page] | July 15, 2009 7:08 PM

I have not seen a response to the earlier post regarding the use of uniforms off duty. Did Chief Grant give the 20 permission? My friend at the police department said the cops are not allowed to dress in uniform for off duty work (charity, accepting awards etc) with out the chief's approval.

Posted by: Reader | July 15, 2009 7:49 PM

ROBN, very interesting point. Actually, by law, the policy would not have to be posted. (Unless it was part of a public meeting, in which case it only has to be "available.") However, if you request it, the city is required by law to give it to you.

http://www.state.ct.us/foi/FOIC_Highlights/English/FOIC_HighLightsEng.htm

Posted by: robn | July 15, 2009 9:47 PM

READER

I wrote that the fire department rules, by law, must be printed...in todays world, the municode should "define" printed as posted but that would make way too much sense.

New Haven Municipal Code, Article XXII, Sec 104, Board of Fire Commissioners, reads...
" ... board of fire commissioners ... together with the chief shall make all rules and regulations relating to the administration of the department which it may deem necessary or advisable, which rules shall be printed and made available to the public...."

Posted by: Confused | July 15, 2009 9:56 PM

I don't think these guys wearing their uniforms is any different than Gary Tinney (and the other 'Birds that have had their photo ops) parading around in their uniforms. Actually I do think the Cheif DID have a gag order on the guys to NOT conduct interviews or give opinions while ON duty, and that clearly was not followed by Gary Tinney when he did his latest interview at the firehouse, while on duty, in uniform.

Posted by: Common Sense | July 15, 2009 10:03 PM

Robn writes...."Since the Ricci case was discrimination case brought by individuals against the city, and since these individuals testimony really don't have to do with official policy of the NHFD, doesn't appearing before Congress in uniform seem wierd?"

To who? The individuals just happened to be Firefighters and Fire Lieutenants. They are being addressed all through the media as such and will be addressed the same way in the hearings. Their law suit was not brought against the New Haven Fire Department. They all are proud of their uniformed occupation and dress very professionally.

Many times a firefighter/officer will be in an off duty status and wear the uniform. They honor their brother/sister firefighters both active and retired who have passed on. They stand at the casket at attention all through the calling hours of a wake. They appear in various parades and receive much applause and respect when they pass by the crowds on the parade route. Children love them...they want to grow up to be a firefighter...Talk about role models...You will find them off duty volunteering their time to speak about fire safety at a school their children attend and yes they will be in dress uniform. You might find them at a charity event in their uniform.

I would find it weird if they didn't appear in full dress uniform at the hearing.

Posted by: Ilona | July 15, 2009 10:08 PM

Hads,

These two senators could care less about being
right or wrong. Yes I agree with you 100%, that
the only way that the Supreme Court found that
they could reasonably overturn the Ricci case
WAS IN FACT TO MAKE NEW LAW!

These Senators DO KNOW that Judge Sotomayor and the other two Judges were following EXISTING LAW at the time that they made their ruling......i.e They applied the EXISTING LAW TO THE FACTS AT THE
TIME OF THEIR RULING.

The Supreme Court subsequently CREATED NEW LAW
WHICH ENABLED THEM TO OVERTURN SOTOMAYOR'S AND
HER COLLEAGUES DECISION!

I CAN ONLY HOPE THAT JUDGE SOTOMAYER MAKE MINVE MEAT OF THOSE GUYS TOMORROW. THIS WOMAN HAS
HAD TO TAKE TOO MUCH GARBAGE FROM THE PARTY OF
NO!

Posted by: sickened | July 15, 2009 10:26 PM

It disgusts me how people can use this opportunity to try and smear Frank Ricci. Frank Ricci and Ben Vargas were invited to appear at the hearings by the senate judiciary committee to tell their story. They did not invite themselves and were not looking for an opportunity to throw themselves in the spotlight. Frank has done nothing wrong and has done everything to try to better himself, as the other members of the NH20 have done. They won their case, which means that in the eyes of our countries highest court, they were right. End of story. Ignorant people need to move on and get a life. And to question these men wearing their dress uniforms at the hearings? Give me a break. They are proud of what they are and I'm proud of them for showing it off. And in response to Lance's question above: "is being black a learning disability?" I've recently read multiple comments made by blacks stating that "blacks historically do not score well on written exams." If they want to categorize themselves like that, then that sure sounds like a disability to me. ... Congrats to all the men, white, hispanic & black, in the NHFD who will be promoted due to this decision.

Posted by: no change | July 15, 2009 11:01 PM

Very good question Robin:

Dress uniforms should only be worn when the member/members are representing the Departments or when given permission by the Chief.These gentleman should be in civilan dress.

Hopefully the city will move forward with promotions to assure future stability in both departments. Bless the police and firefighters

Posted by: Jack | July 16, 2009 8:28 AM

Ilona, thanks,I was unaware the 14th Amendment was a new law

Posted by: robn | July 16, 2009 8:48 AM

COMMON SENSE and SICKENED,

This event was not apolitical like a parade. When a person wears a uniform, it creates a perception that their views are official departmental views and not personal views. As far as I know (I may be wrong) Mr. Ricci and Mr.Vargas did not carry a stamp of imprimatur from the department and I wonder why they were allowed to appear in uniform.

Posted by: unreal | July 16, 2009 11:16 AM

Ilona,
your perception of the Ricci verdict is quite scewed. In order for the city to disregard the results of the exams under the Title VII law they are required to meet one of 3 criteria.
1. They need to show the process was intentionaly discriminitory..... It was not
2. They need to prove the test was NOT job related or consistent with business necessity...... Had they conducted a validation study and the exams indeed were not job related they would have been correct in there decision. I assure you the exams were job related. The city knew this and did not conduct the study.
3. Had the city refused to use a process that yielded less disparate results..... The city never looked into assessment centers prior to this exam.

Fact of the matter is you are buying right into the liberal propaganda machine regarding the Ricci case.
SCOTUS did not right new law here, all they said was that an employer needs to have a strong basis of evidence to disregard an employment process.
The city ABUSED titleVII plain and simple, the liberal political machine tried to bury it in the court. No new law was written, this crap about the city and the courts interperating the law as it WAS written is all B.S. The city DID NOT have the right to disregard those exams on the sole basis of disparate results. The law was never written that way.

Posted by: Donna | July 16, 2009 12:00 PM

I think most of you are missing the real point Firefighter Ricci, is not a lap dog for the Republican party, it's about an equal playing ground for all.

Sotomayor made a bad decision in the NHPD 20, case, and was blasted by the Supreme court in a 91 page decision.

No, Morris Cove, YOU are missing the point. Everything you wrote above may be true (it is NOT, btw--a 5-4 decision is not being "blasted," and even the five judges who voted in favor of the NH20 acknowledged that they were going against the established precedent that Sotomayor and her circuit were BOUND to follow; only the Supreme Court can throw out precedent), but that's NOT the point at all.

The point of this is, what can Frank Ricci add to the confirmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor? The answer is absolutely NOTHING. The point of the hearings is to examine Sotomayor's judicial philosophy, her judicial temperament, her fitness for the job of Supreme COurt Justice. Seeing as Frank Ricci has absolutely no first hand experience or knowledge of ANY of these things, he has nothing to add. His testimony should be four seconds long. That's how long it takes to say "I didn't like it when she ruled against me."

Posted by: blue dog dem | July 16, 2009 4:36 PM

The Second Circuit's decision to not hear the Ricci case was its attempt to bypass a serious question. One of Sotomayor's peers wanted to hear the appeal, but was voted down - his reasoning was that it was too important an issue to pass up.

Sotomayor and the others followed precedent and took the easy way out, writing a paragraph-long decision, rather than face an issue that did not affect a group for which she had empathy. I don't think anyone would dispute that if the plaintiffs were of a class for which she did feel empathy, the appeal would have been heard.

Thank God that the SCOTUS finally heard the matter and leveled the playing field for all races willing to work hard and better themselves.

Baker stating in the article above that Ricci can't have it both ways is wrong. His first suit was completely different than the second. The city did not have a policy in place allowing discrimination against his and other's dyslexia. As Unreal pointed out above, the second suit was against the City's illegal/unethical disregard for the results of a properly given exam. So yes, he is being smeared by those who either don't know the facts or choose to ignore them.

That being said, having him testify before the judiciary committee in uniform really didn't bring anything to the table in re to Sotomayor's confirmation.

Posted by: GCMann | July 16, 2009 4:56 PM

"'The point is, you can't have it both ways,'said Baker."

This is rediculous. Ricci's claim in the ADA case is that his disability does not prevent him from doing the job of a firefighter. His claim in the New Haven 20 case is that political maneuvering for racial purposes would have promoted less qualified (presumably experienced, since it was an officers' exam) firefighters. Frankly, he, and the other plaintiffs have used these laws in exactly the way they were intended. I am a Democrat. I'm pretty liberal. But the left has learned too well from the rightwing attack machine. Simplistic arguments, like "you can't have it both ways," and digging for supposed dirt do no good for anyone.

Posted by: Common Sense | July 16, 2009 7:11 PM

Robn states: "As far as I know (I may be wrong) Mr. Ricci and Mr.Vargas did not carry a stamp of imprimatur from the department and I wonder why they were allowed to appear in uniform".

Maybe she should address her concern to the Board of Fire Commissioners. I hope she doesn't feel this way when she sees a military person (Marine, Navy, Army, Airforce, etc.) dressed in their uniform. Many members of the "Greatest Generation", that Robn has a problem with, were military people serving the USA during World War II. As living veterans you will find many of them dressed in their old, sometimes faded uniform on Memorial Day, 4th of July and Veteran's Day.

Robn, get over it.

Posted by: Thomas Burns | July 17, 2009 1:10 AM

Let me see--
they gave a test--
everyone new that if they did well on the test they would be promoted--
they took the test--
they did poorly---
and now they want to change the rules---
THIS IS WHAT LOSERS DO - NOT WINNERS
I want WINNERS to run everything-- not LOSERS
How hard is this to fathom?

With all due respect---why didn't those who did poorly on the test complain about it before they took it???? Good God take a look at yourself (those of you who failed--and make an honest judgement) Please study harder next time or complain about the process before the exam,NOT AFTER, otherwise YOU ARE TRULY A LOSER--

Posted by: Morris Cove | July 17, 2009 1:28 AM

Donna

If you don't think a 91 page rebuttle is being blasted Donna, then maybe your seeing somthing I'm not!

She had the power to do the right thing and she choose to side with the City, in a reverse discrimination judgement. As far as Mr. Ricci's contribution to the hearing it's fair, everyone should hear his side, the side that he presented to her and she totally disregarded. This man suffered for almost 5 years, from her bad decision and he should just go away?, I think he has every right to address the commitee, don't you?

Equal playing ground, thats what this is about, and not these silly blogs about unifoms.

Posted by: Donna | July 17, 2009 11:01 AM

Morris, what one EARTH does the length of the decision have to do with anything? What matters in determining whether or not a judge's decision was "blasted" by the Supreme Court is the vote. If it's 9-0 against you, you've been "blasted." A 5-4 decision is as close as it gets. Four judges sided with her ruling.

And for the last time, Sotomayor's confirmation hearing is NOT ABOUT THE RICCI CASE. ALL circuit judges have, at some point in their careers, been reversed by the Supreme Court. The question is, was there a good reason for her to have ruled the way she did? There WAS--it's called ESTABLISHED PRECEDENT. She followed the precedent, as she was bound by law to do.

Mr. Ricci's "side" was immaterial to the Circuit. The precedent was all that mattered in determining their actions. If she HAD heard the case, and ruled differently, I'm quite sure the Republicans trying to bring her down would have gone after her for being an "activist" judge who legislated from the bench in violation of precedent. That's how little this case matters--she'd have been attacked for her ruling no matter WHAT it was.

Did you see Ricci's testimony? Basically, all he said was "have empathy for me." Of course, Republicans on the Justice Committee had just spent the last three days telling Sotomayor that empathy has no place on the bench. So what, exactly, was he doing there? She's a horrible judge because she didn't have empathy for Frank Ricci's plight and throw out the rules of the Circuit and hear his case, while at the same time she's a horrible judge because she has too much empathy? Huh? Oh, right, I get it. Empathy is only allowable if you express it for white dudes.

Posted by: blue dog dem | July 17, 2009 11:13 AM

Donna:

"She followed the precedent, as she was bound by law to do." Precedent is actually a strict guide, not something that can never be changed. If that were true, you couldn't have activist judges. And at least one of Sotomayor's peers on the Second Circuit wanted to hear the case, so you cannot state that she didn't have a choice in the matter.

I believe the Republicans position is that if you state you are going to show "empathy" in your decision-making process, then you should do it across the board, and not just to the group(s) with whom you relate most. After all, a wise Latina woman should be able to come to the best conclusion, without being overturned.

Posted by: Howard | July 17, 2009 11:59 AM

Spector and Lugar are obviously weak spineless putz's who have waited until Sotomayor appears to be assured confirmation, before they publicly endorsed her ... while completely disregarding the testimony of the two fire fighters, which clearly illustrates the fact that Sotomayor is not capable of interpreting the spirit, intent, and justice of our laws ... which is exactly what a supreme court justice is chosen to do. Choosing Sotomayor is obviously an act of pandering to the hispanic voters for political advantage, and has nothing to do with honesty, fair play, or what's best for the American people !!!

Posted by: ROBN | July 17, 2009 12:39 PM

COMMON SENSE,

I don't have a problem with the greatest generation, just people who apply that title to those who didn't risked their lives in battle dduring WWII. Get over that bud.

Posted by: Donna | July 17, 2009 1:13 PM

So Blue Dog, you are advocating for Sotomayor to actually BE an "activist judge"? I thought that was as forbidden as empathy.

Posted by: Morris Cove | July 17, 2009 1:43 PM

Donna

First off did you expect the other liberal judges to go against her?, the bottom line was that the New Haven 20, went before her and expected justice or at least a debate as to why the were denied and she returned with a poor decision that was unjust.

She was even repremanded by a judge on the same panel for failure to cite legal argument in her decision, and you still don't think she was blasted?, okay lets agree to disagree, but here is a fact that cannot be denied, she has had over 60% of her decesions overturned, if you don't believe me google it.

Lastly I'm not in a disagreement that she is a good judge, I like her, and I'm Latino so I'm also very proud to have a Latino sitting on the highest court of the land, but I am also a man of principle and I truely beleive that all men are created equal and what's fair is fair. If you study your ass off for a test and pass, why should you be punished?, do think it was fair?

Posted by: blue dog dem | July 17, 2009 3:25 PM

No, I am not advocating for any activist justices. What I do advocate is for someone to be willing to have a level playing field for everyone, to overturn laws poorly constructed or unfair on their face, and to return to the structures that were in place until the 1950's.

I don't suppose myself or many of my peers to be more intelligent than the men who created this Country and its laws. Those that sacrificed all to make what we take for granted. Who wrote extensively as to their meaning, fighting amongst themselves to make as close to perfect a union and laws as could be made without any example preset before them. Laws whose meaning gets bastardized daily by those who have no idea what the concepts mean, but know each and every catchphrase and throw it out with reckless abandon, moving consistently away from our Founders original intent for the sake of unconstitutional "precedent."

So if there are any "activist" judges out there that would move our Country and laws back to their originality, then I am all for them, otherwise I'll just keep hoping for the best.

BTW, I have stated in other posts that I think that she will be a good justice. I think that she will surprise people, for the better. And those thinking that she will be a left wing zealot from the bench, I believe will be sadly mistaken, much like our President who has been more moderate than what some would like (and much more radical for most).

Posted by: Moreorless | July 18, 2009 11:43 AM

Dear Donna,
If all you take from Ricci's testimony is him asking for empathy, you are an uneducated buffoon. His testimony spoke to the importance of education, training and a level of service that every taxpayer should expect from their Fire Officers. Apparently you missed that point. He stated that over 100 firefighters die every year and more than 80,000 are injured--some due to poor commanders (i.e. from lowered competency based testing due to quota systems). His 5 minute speech spoke of using a merit based system, not one based on color/race/ ethnicity, as is becoming the common practice. It is ridiculous to think that his words mean nothing-they speak volumes on the destruction of a quality based system by democrats just to fulfill quotas--and people like you wonder why our schools are terrible, and workers are lower quality then in previous eras--why should minorities work hard if they know there going to get a handout for free.

There are many minorities like Benny (Linda Chavez & Miguel Estrada to name 2 others)--who believe in the merit system--thank God for that. They see themselves as equal to their white male counterparts, and expect no special treatment or exception because of their ethnicity or color of their skin. More people should follow their lead and take responsibility for their own actions, as opposed to, the government or city of New Haven trying to give them something because of their skin color or ethnic background--that is a joke, and it is illegal as written in Title VII, and recently affirmed by the SCOTUS.

Posted by: Walt | July 18, 2009 1:07 PM

Makes little difference .

Sotomayor will be very Liberal as you would expect from an Obama appointment, but will not be much different in votes from her predecessor.

Posted by: REALLY | July 19, 2009 9:52 PM

WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP MENTIONING OBAMA? HES THE PRESIDENT WHOS TRYING TO CLEAN THE MESS BUSH LEFT..HE APOINTED A JUDGE THAT HAS HIS SAME BELIEVES.AND HAS HIS BACK.WHO DID YOU GUYS EXPECT HIM TO PICK ..LANCE ,,,CONSERVATIVES KEEP KNOCKING OBAMA.EVRYTHING HE DOES THEY KNOCK.NOW THEY SAY THEY HAVE THE REMEDY FOR THIS NATION TO GET BACK ON ITS FEET. I HAVE ONLY ONE QUESTION.WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN WITH ALL THESE GREEEEEEAAAAAAAT IDEAS FOR THE LAST EIGHT YEARS?YOU GUYS SHOULD HAVE TOLD YOUR REPUBLICAN LEADER ABOUT THEM ,MAYBE WE WOULNT BE IN A RECESSION........AND LANCE THE ONLY WAY TO GET GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS....YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE GRADE BUDDY..DONT GET MAD BECOUSE A VERY GIFTED ,SMART, WISE LATINA GOT ACCEPTED TO PRINCETON WITH AFULL RIDE AND YOU DID NOT.YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD THEM YOU WERE A BIGOT,MAYBE THEY HAD A KKK GRANT FOR YOU.

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