Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Judging by the Test Scores...

I just want to point out this seemingly irrelevant detail in the Sotomayor confirmation saga. Political "conservatives" keep pointing to her ruling against (some of) the New Haven firefighters who sued for reverse discrimination because the city threw out a promotion exam they took and passed. The results showed significant racial disparities.

The Title VII federal civil rights law on which the case is based REQUIRES employers to consider "disparate racial impact" in hiring procedures, not to mitigate low test scores, but to make sure the test isn't discriminatory in nature. In this case, Sotomayor ruled CONSERVATIVELY - not "legislating from the bench," but rather deferring to the law itself.

By the way, Frank Ricci, the lead plaintiff, paid $1,000 in tutoring costs and took SIX MONTHS leave to study for the test. That sure deserves a "nice effort," but it doesn't exactly scream "public safety is my #1 concern." Whether the city is paying for his six-month cram session or he's got enough savings to go without pay, THAT's certainly an advantage not all the test-takers have. I don't know whether anyone else took such extreme measures, but this guy wants to be a fire captain or lieutenant. From this far away, taking six months off seems purely selfish.

Then again, perhaps the city is at fault for, according to the article on the case, basing promotions primarily on the result of a written exam. If that was designed to provide objectivity and move away from favoritism (perhaps historically race-based), then reverse discrimination is a spurious charge, isn't it? One would hope that other factors, like dedication and leadership, would count at least as high.

Sen. McConnell's question is typical double-speak: "Is she allowing her personal or political agenda to cloud her judgment in favor of one group of individuals over another?" If she'd ruled the other way, it's just as easy a question to ask. The case requires (as lawsuits, duh, do) her to favor one group over another. Even if the answer is a 100% resounding "no," merely asking the question implies that some people are saying "Why, yes!" It's akin saying, "What we have to ask here, is 'Does two plus two really equal four?" It casts doubt and steers political lemmings away from the facts of the case, and boils it down to "She doesn't like white people, right?"

McConnell and Co. seem to have wanted the white guys to win a discrimination case. Wouldn't that be a sexy twist in the so-called Obama Era of race relations? "See, we finally elected a black president, racism is over--hey, wait a minute, racism ISN'T over, you colored folks are racist against US!!" It cleverly establishes an early precedent for white victimhood, as the population demographic marches toward a white-minority country.