Racial Equality After Ricci

On June 29, the Supreme Court delivered its decision in Ricci v. DeStefano. The court found the City of New Haven had violated the right of 17 white firefighters and one Latino firefighter to be free from discriminatory treatment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it decided to scrap the results of a test that the city believed had unfairly disadvantaged black and other Latino firefighters in violation of a different provision of the same statute.

Some people mistakenly concluded the Ricci decision altered the constitutionality of government actions to address racial inequality and discrimination. This misunderstanding perpetuates the incorrect belief that government can never take race or racial inequality into consideration when making policy.

Today, the ACLU's Racial Justice Program released a new guide: Promoting Opportunity and Racial Equality in America: A Guide for Federal, State and Local Governments, to dispel this confusion. The guide clarifies how government officials can consider race and racial inequality in policymaking, while still respecting equal protection rights guaranteed by the Constitution's Fifth and 14th Amendments.

As the guide explains, not only do federal law and regulations continue to prohibit federally-funded programs from engaging in racial discrimination, government officials are allowed to and should continue to follow constitutional law permitting them to advance racial equality and equal opportunity through the design of policies and programs."

This message is one that state and local government officials should remember as they spend billions of federal stimulus dollars to boost their economies and lift people out of economic hardship.

We should all celebrate and recognize the enormous strides that our country has made to advance the American ideals of racial equality and opportunity. Yet, there remains a great deal of work to do. Today, we suffer from an economic recession that hurts us all, but disproportionately impacts communities of color, among others, and widens racial inequalities that have never completely gone away.

Government can and should play a role in fighting racial inequality and supporting equal opportunity for all Americans. President Obama affirmed this sentiment in a speech given last Thursday at the NAACP Centennial Convention when he said: "Yes, government must be a force for opportunity. Yes, government must be a force for equality."

To learn more, listen to a podcast about the Ricci decision and the constitutional law permitting government to promote racial equality and equal opportunity for all Americans:


You can also visit www.fairrecovery.org to learn about the disproportionate impact the economic crisis has had on communities of color. Fairrecovery.org also has information about various federal stimulus programs, and provides access to resources and tools that citizens, civil rights advocates and policymakers can use to ensure that stimulus funds promote equality and opportunity for all Americans.

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Perhaps now a equal test may be given.

I am surprised that the ACLU did not look into the threat of a potential law suit to be filed if the test was not thrown out??? I believe it was by a local Black Community Leader? Isn't that like the good ole boys using threats?

Well hopefully local governments will learn a lesson. They can be sued by any race.


'Racial Equity' can never be achieved through discrimination.

Discriminating against a man or a Caucasian simply because she/he had the misfortune to not have been born to some other ethnic group is just as bad, just as damaging as to discriminate because they had.

As long as the ACLU and others claim that basing hiring/firing and other decisions on the ethnic group of the individual the cycle will continue.

Either basing decisions on ethnicity is O.K. or it isn't. You can't say that it's O.K. as long as it favors groups you personally support.

In this case the city was potentially denying hiring the best trained firefighters to protect their citizens simply because of the color of their skin. If that's not an example of 'political correctness' run amok, I don't know what is.


jilocasin...Unfortunately, the State has seen the need to support discrimination for a limited time in order to level the playing field. When our society becomes adequately color blind that the effects of past discrimination, including education and employment opportunities, becomes inconsequential, the need for State discrimination will end.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of assuming the test is an adequate indicator of on-the-job performance. It may or may not be true.

Melissa Giovagnoli

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Check out his blog at http://budurl.com

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