There’s lots of coverage this morning on the Ricci v. DeStefano (otherwise known as the New Haven firefighter reverse discrimination claim) oral argument at the Supreme Court yesterday — among the most significant discrimination cases arising in Connecticut in years. Here’s a wrap-up:
- Ellen Simon, of the Employee Rights Post, rightly points out the dilemma facing New Haven in this situation. She suggests that Justice Kennedy may be the swing vote; the question is whether he tries to stake out a middle ground by sending the case back down to the lower courts for more analysis without declaring either side a winner or loser right now.
- The Hartford Courant provides some comments from the parties about the oral argument.
- Law.com shares the view that all eyes are going to be on Justice Kennedy to see how he shapes the analysis. According to the article, for what it’s worth, the reporter observed: "Kennedy, the object of all the attention, did not explicitly tip his hand, but overall seemed sympathetic to the white firefighters who claim they were discriminated against on the basis of race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, when the city did not give them the promotions."
- Carole Bass, of the New Haven Independent, provides some additional on-scene coverage of the argument and framed the issue that the court seemed to focus on as "Was it a ‘race-based’ decision? Or simply ‘race-conscious’?"
- For a more scholarly discussion of the case, the Workplace Prof blog does an excellent job at summarizing the many different sides to the case. As he states, the case is not an easy call, either to analyze or predict: "One of the reasons that this case is so challenging and so divisive is that this case seems to be all about the framing of the issue. It is very difficult to separate that framing from the factual question of the parties’ subjective intent or the credibility question of whether to believe their assertions. The way that the facts and law get merged together make for a doctrinal mess. It seems like people talk past each other constantly."