Magazine article Newsweek

A Race Case? Duck and Cover

Magazine article Newsweek

A Race Case? Duck and Cover

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Isikoff

What began as a reverse discrimination lawsuit filed by 20 New Haven, Conn., firefighters five years ago could become a long-term political headache for the Obama administration. The case involves a complaint filed by 19 white firefighters and one Hispanic who were rejected for promotions despite passing a civil-service test. After the lead plaintiff, firefighter Frank Ricci, who had hoped to become a lieutenant, and his fellow plaintiffs got high scores, the city scrapped the test and promoted no one rather than give them the jobs over black candidates who had earned lower scores. When the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in January, the Obama administration was faced with a dilemma: how to handle a case with the potential to stir up old controversies over "racial quotas"--an issue that Obama, as a candidate, made clear he wanted to get beyond? The case's sensitivity was only heightened by Attorney General Eric Holder's recent remark about the United States still being a "nation of cowards" on racial matters--a comment that was deemed needlessly divisive by some and refreshingly candid by others.

A Justice Department official, who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter, confirmed that DOJ lawyers had consulted with White House counsel Gregory Craig's office about how to handle the case. Then in late February, Justice quietly filed a brief that another lawyer involved, who also asked for anonymity, called a "political straddle. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.