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The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Ricci v. DeStefano, a race discrimination lawsuit against the city of New Haven, Connecticut, by White and Latino firefighters who claim that the city’s decision not to certify the results of a firefighter promotion test discriminated against them.

Two lower courts agreed that the city made the correct decision.

In 2003, the city administered a test to firefighters seeking promotion to the positions of lieutenant and captain. After the test, the city learned that only two out of 50 minority candidates would have been eligible for the promotion based on the exam results.

New Haven is a racially mixed city. About 44 percent of its residents are White, 37 percent are Black, and 21 percent are Latino.

As an employer, and under equal opportunity laws, the city was responsible for re-examining the process to ensure that it was fair. The city concluded the process was flawed and chose to abandon the discriminatory exam. It ultimately found less discriminatory alternatives that accomplished the same goal.

Victor Bolden, the city’s acting corporation counsel, said, ‘I understand [the white firefighters] disappointment, but this test had an adverse impact [on minorities]. The city did the right thing. It made a measured response in a difficult circumstance.’

A decision is expected later this year.

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