COMMENTARY On racism, Supreme Court rules for status quo

Another good reason why Sotomayor should be confirmed

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the New Haven firefighters is not a reason to keep Judge Sonia Sotomayor off the court as some on the right are pushing, but rather it shows how urgent it is that she be confirmed.

Justice Ginsberg in her dissenting opinion pointed out that the majority on the court “ignores substantial evidence of multiple flaws in the test New Haven used. The court similarly fails to acknowledge the better test used in other cities which have yielded less racially skewed outcomes.”

The impression is given that no blacks or Latinos passed the test and therefore none were qualified for the job. The fact is that there were eight openings for lieutenant and 77 fire fighters took the test. Thirty-four passed including 25 whites out of 43, three Hispanics out of 15 and six African Americans out of 19. The top 10 scorers were white. There were seven openings for captain and 41 took the test with 22 passing. Twenty-five whites took that test and nine failed, 16 passed; eight Hispanics took the test and five failed and three passed; eight blacks took the captain test, five failed and three passed. The top nine were seven white and two Hispanic. This is all according to The New York Times.

One white fire fighter said he passed because he studied for eight to 13 hours a day. Another one on national television at a press conference of white firefighters said it takes “hard work” to move ahead, suggesting that blacks and Latinos don’t work hard enough and that was the reason they didn’t get higher scores.

The nature of the test and who got help and who didn’t get help in preparation for the test needs to be looked into.

Also the city of New Haven is now majority African American and Latino and it seems to me that an affirmative action program in their fire department is very much in order.

It’s important to know that there is a long history of struggle with both the New Haven firefighters union and fire department over its racist policies. Black firefighters had to set up an organization called the “Fire Birds” to combat the entrenched exclusionary policies they face getting hired and advancing in the department. The majority on the U.S. Supreme Court ignored all this. Why?

The majority avoided these deeper questions, which speaks volumes about what is wrong with the current composition of the court. To put it frankly, from its many rulings, the majority seems to be in support of the racist status quo and not committed to the elimination of racial discrimination as it continues to be practiced throughout this land.

Sotomayor and her colleagues on the appellate court ruled in favor of New Haven’s attempt to address these deeper issues of eliminating racial discrimination.

So now, the right-wing racist trash talkers in the media are trying to use this ruling to stop the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor. The racist Rush Limbaugh is back to calling her “a racist” again. They are working overtime to destroy the racial unity that elected Barack Obama and the new Congress. They’re attempt to stir-up hatred and division at this time of economic crisis and war must be answered with greater unity. .

The fact that Judge Sotomayor was in the majority at the appellate level that rejected the white fire fighters suit is another reason why she must be confirmed. Speak out!

Jarvis Tyner (jtyner@cpusa.org) is the executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA.