April 22, 2009

Jeffrey Rosen on the two important race cases that will be argued in the Supreme Court in the next few days.

Northwest Austin Utility District v. Holder and Ricci v. DeStefano:
[Northwest Austin Utility District v. Holder] challenges Congress's reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006... But... Congress didn't engage in a serious empirical comparison of voting patterns in the areas of the country that are and aren't covered by the Voting Rights Act. The civil rights establishment was intent on preserving the status quo, which has led to the election of some African Americans in the South at the expense of the Democratic party as a whole; and ... neither Republicans nor Democrats were willing to acknowledge the evidence suggesting that discriminatory barriers to ballot access today, unlike the '60s, seem to be very rare....

[Ricci v. DeStefano is] the most controversial affirmative action case of the term, involving the promotion of firefighters in New Haven. In 2003, the city administered a promotion test. The test was validated by independent experts, as federal law requires, to ensure that it focused on job-related skills rather than purely cognitive ones. But, after the test was administered, none of the top-scoring candidates for 15 positions turned out to be African American. (Fourteen were white, and one was Hispanic.) ... [T]he city refused to certify the exam and promoted no one. The city was then sued by 19 white firefighters (and one Hispanic) led by Frank Ricci, a sympathetic 34-year-old white man. Ricci, who is dyslexic, spent more than $1,000 buying the study guides recommended by the city and paying an acquaintance to record them as audiotapes, which he listened to as he drove to and from work.

The Ricci case is a nightmare for moderate liberal supporters of affirmative action, because it presents the least sympathetic facts imaginable. The Supreme Court has said repeatedly that affirmative action is most troubling when its burdens are concentrated on a few innocent white people rather than being widely dispersed among a large group of white and black applicants....

If the Supreme Court strikes down part of the Voting Rights Act and the New Haven affirmative action program, [it] would force Obama to articulate a moderate, middle-of-the-road position on race that is rooted in empirical evidence rather than ideology....

With all the other problems facing the country--from the economy to the war on terrorism--Obama has no incentive to take on liberal racialists who believe we've made little progress on race since the 1960s or conservative color-blind partisans who insist that anti-discrimination laws are no longer necessary. But everything in Obama's background suggests that he has the inclination and ability to help the country transcend the extremes that have defined our racial politics for too long.
I added the boldface.

60 comments:

EnigmatiCore said...

"But everything in Obama's background suggests that he has the inclination and ability to help the country transcend the extremes that have defined our racial politics for too long."

Like sitting and listening to Rev. Wright for decades?

Widmerpool said...

Don't hold your breath Jeffrey.

Maguro said...

But everything in Obama's background suggests that he has the inclination and ability to help the country transcend the extremes that have defined our racial politics for too long.

Jeffrey Rosen must be the last person in America who believes that Obama will help America transcend its racial problems. He seems naive even for a liberal.

ricpic said...

The Democratic machines that govern our big cities get around exams in which whites always overwhelmingly outscore blacks and hispanics by simply, you guessed it, not giving the exams. As positions open through the normal process of attrition blacks and hispanics are appointed to fill those positions on the basis of "merit." So it doesn't really matter how the Supremes vote in Ricci vs. DeStefano. Fairness marches on.

traditionalguy said...

When legal fictions meet facts, will the Supreme Court dare to draw a line?

peter hoh said...

I agree that Frank Ricci is a sympathetic figure.

On another blog, however, I've had to listen to the argument that the same-sex marriage case in Iowa ought to be ignored because an advocacy group went out and found some sympathetic, appealing plaintiffs to front the case.

So I guess unfairly sympathetic plaintiffs are sort of like activist judges.

garage mahal said...

White males like ricpic just catch a break anywhere. Everywhere he turns. Obstacles.

rdkraus said...

I understand why Ricci being sympathetic makes the case more difficult for supporters of discrimination based on race (yes, that's what "moderate liberal supporters of affirmative action" are), but, of course, this should be an easy case even if Ricci was just a capable white male SOB.

The gov't should not be discriminating against anyone based on race. This concept seems so easy.

ricpic said...

Knaves love sticking it to all those dumb squares, eh garage?

Peter V. Bella said...

The City of Chicago is paying out tens of millions of dollars in back pay and damages to White firefighters who were passed over for promotions to Lieutenant by minorities who scored lower on the tests.

TMink said...

"[it] would force Obama to articulate a moderate, middle-of-the-road position on race that is rooted in empirical evidence rather than ideology...."

If only it were so.

Trey - who is waiting for a shorter "whites only" goal to encourage mroe integration in the NBA

Bissage said...

** skims comments for Simon **

** scratches head in puzzlement **

Cedarford said...

But everything in Obama's background suggests that he has the inclination and ability to help the country transcend the extremes that have defined our racial politics for too long.Obama will take the cowards way out.

His TelePrompter will script him with "The Court has spoken!". And another difficult matter will be neatly wrapped up in worship of the Lawyers Dressed in Robes - who allow the President and Congress to duck the hard work of using the democratic process and The People to decide on policy.

Then he goes out and says either "whatever the Court wishes, it's above my pay grade" to audiences or oozes Bill Clinton "Oh, I feel your pain" to the losing faction.

David said...

Problem with Obama's background is that it suggests very little other than ambition. Blank slate even after his magnificent first 100 days. What has he shown he can do, other than spend money?

Martin Gale said...

The irony here is that every lawyer participating in the Ricci case (including, of course, the Supremes) will have taken LSATs and Bar Exams with about the same "disparate" results as those observed in the New Haven FD promotion exam.

Lem said...

“..help the country transcend the extremes that have defined our racial politics for too long”.

The Geithner plan is to put them in a “bad bank” and sell it to the Chinese ;)

Hey, whatever happened to the race czar?

Lem said...

He was on speed.. before it bombed.

John Althouse Cohen said...

peter hoh: What was "unfairly sympathetic" about them?

John Althouse Cohen said...

As to Obama's pragmatism on race, see #13 from my list.

Richard Fagin said...

The "affirmative action establishment" must believe that the Ricci plaintiffs have a good chance to lose in the Supreme Court. Otherwise they would have bought off the plaintiffs like they did in the Taxman litigation. Give them credit for excellent judgment, though. A loss in the Taxman case would have been close to the end of affirmative action, at least in post-hiring employment decisions.

Richard Fagin said...

By the way, JAC, your #13 is based on believing that Obama actually has the opinion in the quote you used. Believing in the truth of any assertion he makes with respect to issues of race and class is not a good idea.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I just said it was relevant; I didn't say we should believe whatever he says. I'm fine with you pointing out that we can't trust him to always give his honest opinion. I assume you were equally skeptical toward previous presidents' statements.

JAL said...

I am intrigued by the opinion that "everything in Obama's background suggests ..."[Davis, Indonesia, atheism, Islam, Kenya, wealth, Wright, Khalid, Ayers, Rezko, Alinsky, ACORN, obfuscation, lost records, broken promises, broken promises, broken ....]

There are lots of suggestions from Obama's background. Many of them are conflicting and contradictory. Many people tried (somewhat successfully, obviously) to obscure Obam's opinions on many things, so the voters would think well of him.

The honest to God truth is very very few people - if any - know what Obama really thinks about anything, because what he says changes day to day. And sometimes quicker.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Can I join in the fake outrage over "ACORN" and "Rezko"? It looks fun.

Palladian said...

Can I join in the fake outrage over "ACORN" and "Rezko"? It looks fun."

No. You'd just suck the fun out of it. What makes "outrage" authentic or inauthentic? In your case, I suspect anything to the right of Madison, Wisconsin is inauthentic.

Salamandyr said...

You can join the real outrage.

mariner said...

traditionalguy:
When legal fictions meet facts, will the Supreme Court dare to draw a line?

Sure it will.

On the side of the legal fictions.

Any time black people don't score highly on a test, the problem is with the test.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Palladian: you're not very familiar with my views if you think I'm not to the right of Madison, WI.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Salamandyr: There's "real outrage" over ACORN? Where?

Bissage said...

The Fourth of July fast approaches and the only realistic answer to America’s racial problem is government mandated racial interbreeding. Being a true patriot, and loving a good parade, I would be completely in favor of this so long as I get to be the guy who does the interbreeding. Some sort of title would be appropriate, I should think. Maybe First Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of the United States Department of Affirmative Insemination. Yank my doodle. It’s a dandy!

paul a'barge said...

But everything in Obama's background suggests that he has the inclination and ability to help the country transcend the extremes that have defined our racial politics for too longNothing in this man's background suggests anything of the sort.

This is a man who sat in a church pew for 20 years and listened as the pastor who married Obama and how baptized Obama's children said over and over again G-d damn America.

This is a man who counseled ACORN.

This is a man who partnered with William Ayers to try and revolutionize (in the communist sense) the education of our children via the Annenberg Foundation.

This is a man who rose to the top in the most viral and corrupt Democrat political machine in America, Chicago.

Of all the descriptions that are apt in applying to Obama, transcending extremes is not one of them.

peter hoh said...

John Althouse Cohen, in response to your 11:02 AM question:

Two excerpts:

from the Opine Editorials:
The selection process cannot be emphasized enough, I think. It directly reflects the political strategy used in the courtrooms.
from Jennifer Roback Morse:
This case, known as Varnum v. Brien, began with a half dozen same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses in Polk County, Iowa. The county clerk, acting in accordance with the law, refused. Mind you, the state of Iowa did not go bothering unassuming people who were minding their own business. This was a staged case. These couples went to the clerk’s office intending to be refused. They sued Timothy Brien, Polk County recorder and registrar, an ordinary county employee.

The plaintiffs, that is, the people who complained, were not exactly average citizens battling the big mean state of Iowa all by themselves. They had the backing of homosexual-rights establishment organizations. The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund took in $20 million in 2007. Lambda Legal is a nonprofit devoted solely to bringing legal challenges like these.
The Opine Editorials is an interesting little echo chamber that I stop by every now and then. Among other things, the bloggers at Opine promote the idea that same sex marriage is a form of segregation. Another recent line of argument is that the legal precedent regarding the presumption of paternity makes recognition of same-sex marriage impossible. At least that's what I think they are trying to say.

Then there's this argument that I can't quite follow: That there is no sexual basis for same sex marriage.

In a related post, one of their bloggers asks:
Can someone please identify the sexual aspect, if any, on which Cady has based his opinion? How did he transform "same-sex" into "homosexual"? Is there a new legal requirement for homosexual attraction? I don't think you'll discover this in his reasoning. You might hope to read it into his remarks, but it is not there.
I really don't know how to begin to engage a question like that.

Seven Machos said...

Thank you, Althouse. Yes, in your party the authoritative elites extreme to view equality before the law and color blind justice as a radical, crazy notion.

Salamandyr said...

There's "real outrage" over ACORN? Where?Right here. You're speaking (corresponding) with someone who is outraged by the actions of ACORN, who wonders, when he votes, if his franchise has been made irrelevant by the fog of false data created by their "canvassers"; with someone who is outraged that his taxes go to support professional rabble rousers with no demonstrable purpose except to foment unrest. You're speaking to someone who thinks "community organizer" should be a descriptive term for ministers, teachers, business owners, police and firemen-not a job title.

In other words, I'm genuinely outraged. I bet several other commenters here are genuinely outraged, and your labeling of our genuine grievances as "fake" is outrageous. It's downright offensive, in fact.

Buford Gooch said...

Seems JAC wants to "educate" all of us poor, benighted conservatives. Gosh, John, thanks. I'm just so happy Mommy has a place for you to do so.

Seven Machos said...

John Althouse Cohen: You just said: People are outraged about ACORN? I don't know anyone who is outraged about ACORN.


At least Pauline Kael could write and think perceptively in another area. You?

Peter V. Bella said...

"The honest to God truth is very very few people - if any - know what Obama really thinks about anything, because what he says changes day to day. And sometimes quicker."

Obama was raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.
Can you spell F-L-I-P F-L-O-P-S

Peter V. Bella said...

"I don't know anyone who is outraged about ACORN."

You know one now.:)

Actually many people are due to the power this quasi-criminal organization has amassed. On the South Side of Chicago, they are a force to be reckoned with. In other areas of the country they have amassed political power and have used it to push their particular agenda.

They are also funded heavily by SEIU, a union that has had its own problems with corruption and organized crime ties. I wonder if the members would be outraged to know where their union dues are really going?

LutherM said...

When a sane person advocates that the 14th Amendment prohibits race-based hiring, admission, discrimination of any kind, that person is called "racist"
But when a liberal calls for racial preferences for selected groups, they are called "racialists" - which is how Rosen describes them.

jeff said...

Can I join in the fake outrage over "ACORN" and "Rezko"? It looks fun.

Beats me. Why do you think its fake?

campy said...

Beats me. Why do you think its fake?Because who could possibly object to the long-ignored Imaginary American community finally getting representation?

garage mahal said...

Anyone have pictures of these ACORN people? They sound like they're everywhere. But I never see any.

Bissage said...

BARBARA JO ALLEN: Oh Bob, I feel silly with my hand in your pocket.

BOB HOPE: Reach any lower and you’ll feel nuts.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

"But everything in Obama's background suggests that he has the inclination and ability to help the country transcend the extremes that have defined our racial politics for too long."

Maybe he's trying to bring us together by bankrupting the country and forcing all of us to join together in the sweet brotherhood of hating the government.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Salamandyr: There's "real outrage" over ACORN? Where?.
Haven't you been paying attention to the tea party movement? What do you think those people are outraged about?

ACORN getting tax payer money is just one of the things that people are angry about.

garage mahal said...

Haven't you been paying attention to the tea party movement? What do you think those people are outraged about?Would they feel stupid holding a sign out in the rain if you pointed out to them that the bogus claim that ACORN is receiving billions from the stimulus isn't even true?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

A new whistle-blower report from the Consumer Rights League claims that ACORN routinely commingles funds from its housing arm into political projects such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. Money is fungible. Any taxpayer money that ACORN gets for housing makes it easier for the group to put its other funds into voter drives.

"These are taxpayer funds, in an indirect method, being used to subsidize political activism," says Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican and chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee. "I'm sure they're not going out and registering any Republicans."

ACORN has received $41 million in federal funding since 1999, The Senate bill will provide “$5.7 billion to aid 250,000 volunteers across the country in the arenas of health care, energy, environment and education.”
It’s a Leftist’s dream come true!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

bogus claim that ACORN is receiving billions from the stimulus isn't even true?

I said nothing about the stimulus bill, although it WAS in the bill that ACORN would be receiving money until the feces his the oscilating mechanism about it. They tried to hide it and burying it in the rest of the shit that ws in the unread bill, but they got caught....this time.

The truth is that some of ACORNs funding does come from federal sources, and people are angry about it. Really really angry and not just at Obama, also at Bush, Congress and the entire corrupt political class.

Peter V. Bella said...

"But everything in Obama's background suggests that he has the inclination and ability to help the country transcend the extremes that have defined our racial politics for too long."


Yeah, right. He stated during the election and his inaugaration that the time has stopped to keep using and spouting the same old tired ideas and ideologies of the past.

Then he started spouting the same old tired leftist liberal ideas and leftist liberal ideolgies of the past.

President Flip Flop.

Revenant said...

On another blog, however, I've had to listen to the argument that the same-sex marriage case in Iowa ought to be ignored because an advocacy group went out and found some sympathetic, appealing plaintiffs to front the case.

And you're mentioning this here because...? We are not responsible for policing the entire Internet for dumb remarks.

Revenant said...

everything in Obama's background suggests that he has the inclination and ability to help the country transcend the extremes that have defined our racial politics for too long.

The two sides of this debate are:

(1): The side that wants racial preferences in favor of non-whites, and

(2): The side that wants no racial preferences at all.

You could perhaps call side #1 an "extreme". But side #2 is a neutral middle ground between the old extreme of pro-white racial discrimination and the new extreme of anti-white racial discrimination.

I have exactly zero interest in "transcending" the difference between government-sanctioned racism and color-blind government, because "transcending" in this case means nothing more than "ignoring". There is no "middle ground" between discriminating on racial grounds and NOT discriminating on racial grounds. It is binary; you either do it, or you don't.

I think we shouldn't do it. Maybe you think we should. But I don't want to transcend our differences; I want you to stop being a racist.

peter hoh said...

Rev, I'm not expecting you to police the internet. I'm just making my own observations. Sometimes I'm not actually trying to connect dots.

John Althouse Cohen said...

peter hoh: How are any of those plaintiffs "unfairly sympathetic"?

John Althouse Cohen said...

Seems JAC wants to "educate" all of us poor, benighted conservatives. Gosh, John, thanks.When did I say or do that?

John Althouse Cohen said...

Another thing:

" I'm just so happy Mommy has a place for you to do so."


I don't understand your comment. It's true that the author of this blog is my mom. But the comments section is open to the public. Regardless of how you want to characterize my comments, I would be able to make them here even if she weren't my mom.

dick said...

Just don't assume that the people here, because they don't keep mentioning ACORN, have no problem with the activities of ACORN. As you have seen quite a few do have problems with ACORN and its activities and at least one more, me, also has problems with ACORN. Their actions in Baltimore by breaking into homes that were foreclosed, their actions in the registering of voters using fake names, drugs as gifts to people who will register, giving bus tours of the homes of AIG executives, filing cases to force banks to give home loans to people who cannot afford them. Their actions are a direct slap in the face of fair elections in this country.

peter hoh said...

JAC, the first post I cited claims that the plaintiffs were carefully selected. The second asserts that the identity and actions of the plaintiffs were "staged."

This may not equal the shorthand I used -- that the plaintiffs were portrayed as unfairly sympathetic -- but it comes close.

John Althouse Cohen said...

"JAC, the first post I cited claims that the plaintiffs were carefully selected."


So what?

I'm not seeing what's "unfair" in any of these lawsuits.

I do see what's unfair about the laws they're challenging.

Peter V. Bella said...

JAC,
Just remember that some people here cannot or will not read properly. Put it in its proper perspective. Fight fire with fire and insult with injury. you will feel so much better.

Oh, and I was a victim of so called affirmative action. I tried to sue and was told to forget it. Chicago is a whole other country. That was a long time ago. Now they are paying the price- tens of millions of dollars to White firefighters- some of whom are retired.