Sowell falsely claimed "[d]iversity was Judge Sotomayor's rationale" in Ricci case

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

Thomas Sowell falsely claimed that "[d]iversity was Judge [Sonia] Sotomayor's rationale for going along with the denial of equal rights for white firefighters in Connecticut." In fact, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion Sotomayor joined stated that precedent led it to rule as it did in Ricci v. DeStefano.

In his June 3 syndicated column, Thomas Sowell falsely claimed that "[d]iversity was [Supreme Court nominee] Judge [Sonia] Sotomayor's rationale for going along with the denial of equal rights for white firefighters in Connecticut." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, the decision in Ricci v. DeStefano was not based on diversity; the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said -- in an opinion written by one of Sotomayor's colleagues and joined by Sotomayor and three other judges -- that 2nd Circuit precedent interpreting Title VII's employment discrimination prohibitions led it to rule as it did in the case.

In the case, the city of New Haven, Connecticut, did not argue that it took its actions in order to increase diversity. Rather, in the words of SCOTUSblog contributor and H&R partner Kevin Russell, the city was "simply trying to avoid a violation of Title VII's disparate impact provision." Indeed, Supreme Court Justice David Souter -- whom Sotomayor would replace -- made comments during an April 22 oral argument of the case before the Supreme Court in which he identified what he said was a "damned if you do, damned if you don't situation" faced by the city of New Haven in its efforts to comply with Title VII's prohibitions on employment discrimination.

From Sowell's June 3 column:

The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, like the Constitution, proclaimed equal rights for all, not special rights for those for whom judges have "empathy."

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was being debated in Congress, its opponents claimed that it would lead to discrimination against white people. Its supporters declared that it meant no such thing and added new provisions to make sure that it meant no such thing. That was the law that was passed.

It was not the law, but the judges, who changed equal rights into special rights and thereby set the stage for the new mantra of "diversity" that trumps equal rights. Diversity was Judge Sotomayor's rationale for going along with the denial of equal rights for white firefighters in Connecticut.

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