Much has been and will be written about Frank Ricci and the New Haven firefighter case. Jan Greenburg Crawford and Ariane de Vogue pen one of the more engrossing pieces. One is struck by the lack of attention which Sotomayor displayed toward the firefighters’ claim. The report explains:
What has all of Washington talking is what happened next: Sotomayor and two fellow appellate judges dismissed the white firefighters’ claims — and 2,000 pages of court papers and filings — in a one-paragraph ruling.
“We are not unsympathetic to the plaintiffs’ expression of frustration,” but the firefighters who filed the case don’t have a “viable” claim under the law, the opinion said.
Conservatives, like Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network, have decried the ruling.
“Judge Sotomayor and her colleagues didn’t engage in any legal analysis. They didn’t grapple with these issues,” Long charged.
“It leads one to think that Judge Sotomayor and her two colleagues who were involved in the case simply wanted to bury the claims of the New Haven firefighters.”
On the next appeal to the full 13-member court, the judges were more conflicted. Six sharply objected to the short, unsigned opinion, saying it failed to examine any of the law.
“The opinion contains no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case,” wrote Judge Jose Cabranes, a Clinton appointee and long-time mentor to Sotomayor, in a scathing dissent. “This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal.”
Yes, as her defenders point out, per curium opinions are not uncommon. But after all she “missed” — or sought to shove under the rug — a serious constitutional issue which the Supreme Court selected to consider. The Senate will need to know why she didn’t at the very least spot and fully analyze the Constitutional issue.
But even more than Sotomayor’s cavalier handing of the claim, one is taken aback by the reaction of one the African American firefighters:
Black firefighters say that the stakes in their case couldn’t be higher.
“If we lose this,” New Haven firefighter Octavius Dawson said, “the implication is catastrophic. I mean, where does it end? Not just with the fire department. Police department, education, who knows where it could end?”
Yes, where will it end? Soon colorblind evaluations at police departments, next race-based quotas thrown out at public universities and soon the whole darn country filled with citizens all being evaluated on their merits. Well, one can see why the case might have been such a hot potato.
Supreme Court confirmation hearings provide quite an education. We’ll learn a lot about Sotomayor, but also the degree to which the Left is wedded to identity politics and race-based preferences. Does the country really like all this divvying up by race, as Chief Justice John Roberts put it? I think we’ll be reminded this summer that they certainly do not. And they might wonder why the president has appointed someone who did not, at least in this key case, grapple with the tough issue and give the parties a full opinion on the merits.