As you may know, several years ago, Sotomayor ruled on a case concerning a group of white firemen who had been denied promotion. The firemen had all passed the promotions test but the department threw it out because no black firemen had passed the test.
As part of a Second Circuit Court panel, Sotomayor ruled against the white firemen. Her reason? It wasn't fair to the black firemen because, you know, they're black.
This case eventually came before the Supreme Court, which returned a 5-4 decision stating that the white firemen were in the right and that the test should not have been thrown out.
Now, the problem is that many people see Sotomayor as having a little bit of the old racism in her. She claimed a wise latina woman can make better decisions than a white man, who she assumes are less likely to have led a hard life, to be liberal, and to look good in heels (I'm sure Larry Craig would object). All of which are key to making impartial judicial decisions. Wait. Did I say impartial? I meant empathetic and politically correct. Remember, under Obama, Justice isn't blind, she's empathetic.
Well, some have cited her ruling in the Ricci case, Ricci being the lead plaintiff for the white firefighters, as further evidence of this empathetic, wise Latina is racist. Well, now People for the American Way are here to clear this all up. It's just been a big misunderstanding you see. Naturally, they'll explain that she's not a racist. Point out that even if she is a bit vocal about, shall we say, female brown power, it's not that big of a deal.
Nope! Instead they decide to smear Ricci, the lead plaintiff in the firefighter case. According to McClatchy:
Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor are quietly targeting the Connecticut firefighter who's at the center of Sotomayor's most controversial ruling.Should we call this Ricci Derangement Syndrome, or do we need to wait a week or two?
On the eve of Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearing, her advocates have been urging journalists to scrutinize what one called the "troubled and litigious work history" of firefighter Frank Ricci.
On Friday, citing in an e-mail "Frank Ricci's troubled and litigious work history," the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way drew reporters' attention to Ricci's past. Other advocates for Sotomayor have discreetly urged journalists to pursue similar story lines.
Specifically, the advocates have zeroed in on an earlier 1995 lawsuit Ricci filed claiming the city of New Haven discriminated against him because he's dyslexic. The advocates cite other Hartford Courant stories from the same era recounting how Ricci was fired by a fire department in Middletown, Conn., allegedly, Ricci said at the time, because of safety concerns he raised.
The Middletown-area fire department was subsequently fined for safety violations, but the Connecticut Department of Labor dismissed Ricci's retaliation complaint.
No People for the American Way officials could be reached Friday to speak on the record about the press campaign.
People for the American Way hope to distract us from Sotomayor's racism by focusing on Ricci's allegedly shady history. But even if Ricci does have a less that honest resume, it doesn't alter the racist taint in Sotomayor's ruling.
As a bit of fun, let's assume Ricci is questionable. Well, Sotomayor didn't know that when she ruled. All that mattered to her was that Ricci and his fellow litigants were white and that the firefighters who failed the test were black. Even if Ricci turns out to be a bum, it doesn't change his work history is completely accidental to the case.
This bears a striking difference to the case of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Again, from McClatchy:
In the case of Anita Hill, destroying her credibility would destroy her accusations of sexual harassment. But Ricci isn't accusing Sotomayor of sexual harrassment. Or even of calling him nasty names. The basis for calling Sotomayor a racist doesn't hinge on Ricci's work history. It all stems from her principle that someone can be denied promotion because of the pigmentation of their skin. To trash Ricci is cheap politics of the lowest, scummiest sort.
Nor is he the only Supreme Court confirmation witness to receive sharp elbows. In 1991, for instance, then-Senate Minority Leader Alan Simpson of Wyoming warned that witness Anita Hill would be "injured and destroyed and belittled and hounded and harassed" if she testified against nominee Clarence Thomas. Hill was preparing to testify that she'd been sexually harassed by Thomas.
Hill's subsequent testimony threw into question Thomas's confirmation, during a hearing he likened to a "high-tech lynching." A closely divided Senate ultimately confirmed him.
This is nothing more that the Joe the Plumber episode all over again. Good old Joe asked a question which caught Obama of guard. Obama gave an honest answer. He wanted to "Spread the wealth around." What was the left's reaction? Destroy Joe the Plumber. None of the things revealed about Joe changed what Obama said.
Of course, the left doesn't want Ricci to have any credibility when he testifies at her hearings. Let's hope the American people see through these petty attacks.
For shame People for the Unamerican Way. For shame.
Crossposted at iwatchobama.com