Five To Four

The Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday, striking down a lower court decision, that favored New Haven’s action to throw out a civil service test as grounds promotion in their fire department. The merits of the case appear to me as very complex and questionable depending upon what responsibilities one assigns to the City and the creators of the promotion rules. Affirmative action and reverse discrimination can not stand alone as clearly right or wrong without a full discussion of the overall context.

The Supreme Court’s decision, however, underscored the sharp divide that exists on the Court, and that a majority decision may carry more meaning ideologically than as a pure example of legal work. Justice Kennedy is a bit of an odd ball and seems to enjoy hearing himself speak. The remainder of the 5 Justice majority (Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas) are as predictable as a Swiss watch. In America today, this majority represents a minority of Americans.

Our system of appointing Supreme Court Justices is clear and the rules of the game indicate that a straight vote is all that is necessary for a Court ruling. While there are many who hailed the New Haven decision, and would see it as justice in the works, there are even more who question it. The message here is that Congress and State legislatures must do a better jobs of enacting laws that are Constitutional and can be decided clearly at the lower level, and not depend upon the Supreme Court for legal opinions.

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