Michael Barone also has been perusing Justice Alito’s concurring opinion in Ricci. He observes:
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 Judge Sotomayor to employ racial quotas and preferences in defiance of the words of the Civil Rights Act.
The facts are not pretty, nor are they difficult to discern, as Barone summarizes:
One of the chief actors was the Rev. Boise Kimber, a supporter of Mayor John DeStefano; the mayor testified for him as a character witness in a 1996 trial in which he was convicted of stealing prepaid funeral expenses from an elderly woman. DeStefano later appointed Kimber the head of the board of fire commissioners, but Kimber resigned after saying he wouldn’t hire certain recruits because “they just have too many vowels in their name.” After the results of the promotion test were announced, showing that 19 white and one Hispanic firefighter qualified for promotion, Kimber called the mayor’s chief administrative officer opposing certification of the test results.
The record shows that DeStefano and his appointees went to work, holding secret meetings and concealing their motives, to get the Civil Service Board to decertify the test results. Kimber appeared at a board meeting and made “a loud, minutes-long outburst” and had to be ruled out of order three times.
City officials ignored the inconvenient fact that they had hired an independent and experienced firm — this is a thriving business — to draw up a bias-free test and paid a competing firm to draw up another test. Its head testified that the first firm’s test was biased without seeing it. The board capitulated and decertified the test. DeStefano was prepared to overrule it if it had gone the other way.
Barone is right to make the connection between what Sotomayor did — sweep the whole nasty business under the rug — and what Kimber did. The two work hand-in-hand. Kimber is the street muscle, Sotomayor the legal fixer. They work together to assure the “numbers come out right.” And of course, sometimes Sotomayor has played the Kimber role more directly.
What do we think she did in her twelve years in leading PRLDEF and six years with La Raza? These groups are the professional Kimbers, lobbying and suing to get their way and to influence employers who dread being tagged as “racists.” In those 300 boxes from PRLDEF, how many threatening letters, emails to employers, drafts of legal complaints, and other documents will we find with the singular goal of hiring more of “our” people? No matter what.
It is little wonder that Sotomayor “missed” what was going on in Ricci. Why would someone who has devoted a career to haranguing elite schools, the bar, and public employers to improve “the numbers” find anything amiss with Kimber’s gambit or with the New Haven officials who readily caved to his pressure? This, in her mind, is how the system is supposed to work.
And this is what the Senate needs to explore. Any senator who votes to confirm her will be endorsing the legal machinations that the Kimbers and Sotomayors have perfected. The senators — and the public — should think long and hard about whether this is how we, as a country, want to operate.