A case proceeding in the Supreme Court has raised the issue of race and discrimination in hiring and promotion of public employees. The case, brought by a group of white fire fighters from New Haven, Connecticut, claim that a promotion exam was to be scrapped in that it appeared that it would only promote 2 Hispanic firefighters and no African American fire fighters.
At the heart of the issue is the idea that these white firefighters were effectively denied a promotion by withdrawing the exam, and if this practice constituted a violation of the firefighters civil rights. Furthermore, it treads the middle ground between trying to create an inclusive work environment and overt racism and discrimination.
The hearings were largely split along between the liberal and conservative justices. The more conservative justices such as Antonin Scalia and John Roberts uphold the rights of the white firefighters, arguing the idea that who decides what outcomes of exams are good and bad, and weighing the impact of the denial of benefits to those who deserved it.
The more liberal justices on the other hand have held that the city of New Haven did nothing wrong in throwing out the exam, claiming that the test had a disparate effect on minority participation in line with the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
This case marks the first instance of the Supreme Court dealing with the subject of race and discrimination in the Obama administration. This particular case, dealing with reverse racism, as well as a perception of institutionalized racism, marks an important moment for both the administration, as well as the current Supreme Court. The facts of the trial show we are a long ways off in having a completely equal workplace, and that discrimination in hiring and promotion is active well into the 21st Century.