June 29, 2009

Supreme Court Overturns Sotomayor Decision

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 that the City of New Haven had wrongfully denied a group of white and Hispanic firefighters an opportunity for promotion on account of their race. Their decision overrules the Second Circuit in the case of Ricci v. DeStefano, which was decided by a panel of three judges that included current Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Justice Kennedy authored the opinion for the Court, and Justices Scalia and Alito each filed concurring opinions. Both Justices Scalia and Thomas joined Alito's concurrence. Justice Ginsburg delivered the dissent, which was joined by Justices Stevens, Breyer, and Souter (who is retiring today). All of the opinions can be found here.

Given the fact that Sotomayor would be replacing Souter if she is confirmed, the vote tally would not have differed had she been in his place (and had not participated in the matter as a circiut court judge). Nonetheless, Republican Senators should note that it was her ruling that the Court has overturned, thus adding further concerns about how she would rule in cases involving allegations of discrimination and whether or not her apparent biases would play a role in such cases.

UPDATE: Ed Whalen has some excellent initial reactions to the ruling at Bench Memos.

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