By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Leave it to the uber-liberal People for the American Way to draw the first blood, extraneous or otherwise, in the Sotomayor confirmation debate.
On Friday PFAW sent around an E-mail to reporters urging them to take a closer look at Frank Ricci, a New Haven, Conn., firefighter, who was the lead plaintiff in the Ricci v. DeStefano workplace discrimination case recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case, Ricci and a group of his colleagues sued the city, challenging its decision to throw out the results of a promotion exam on which no black firefighters scored high enough to advance within the department.
The case was appealed to the Supreme Court after a majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit—including Sonia Sotomayor—issued a terse ruling that sided with city of New Haven, affirming that the city could, in fact, toss out the results of the exam simply because it feared it could lead to a lawsuit on behalf of the black firefighters who failed to pass it.
That E-mail, which was written about by the Washington bureau of the McClatchy newspapers, calls on reporters to probe what PFAW called Ricci's "troubled and litigious history" in the workplace. As if that matters as to whether Sotomayor is qualified to be an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.
In the real world, it doesn't; but in the world of Washington make-believe, the brightest of the bright minds behind Sotomayor—you know, the people who invented "Borking" and made it a spectator sport—somehow seem to think that discrediting Ricci will improve her chances of winning confirmation.
Firefighters, as 9/11 reminded us, are heroes. They run into dangerous situations from which the rest of us flee. Ricci is no different, especially because he was willing to take on his own fire department and his own city over the issue of a promotion wrongly denied him—not because he had not demonstrated his qualifications and not because he had not earned it—because others had not. And the city threw the baby out with bath water. It takes courage to stand up like that, courage the judges on the Second Circuit, including Sotomayor, all but ignored by giving the matter short shrift when it came before them.
This is something the American people understand. They understand when power is being abused. They understand when bizarre ideas about what constitutes racial equality become state-backed unfairness, as in the Ricci case. This makes the case, but not Ricci himself, a danger to the left-liberal legal agenda.
Since it would be hard however to argue, or in this case reargue, the facts of the case in a way that makes sense of the nonsensical, the next best thing apparently is to try to discredit Ricci. It's the politics of personal destruction at its worst—waged not against an elected official or someone who aspires to an important political office but against an ordinary American who simply stands in the way of something a radical political machine wants. And, apparently, is willing to do just about anything to get.