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Supreme Court reverses Sotomayor on firefighters case

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:26 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court has voted 5-4 to overturn the most controversial decision by Sonia Sotomayor. The court ruled that white firefighters in Connecticut who had passed a promotion test were unfairly denied promotions. Sotomayor had ruled against an appeal by the firefighters.

A brief story on the opinion is available here. The full text of the decision is here. This is a fascinating case, and I intend to read the whole thing later today, when I get time. It's also a controversial case and the blogs are going to have a field day.

Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, backed by John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas; Ruth Ginsburg wrote the dissent, backed by Stephen Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens. (Alito and Scalia also wrote concurring opinions backing the majorty vote.)

Ginsburg, who went to the trouble of reading her dissent aloud in court, appears to be confident the decision will be reversed when President Barack Obama has had time to "stack" the court with justices who favor race-based affirmative action. She wrote, "The court's order and opinion, I anticipate, will not have staying power."

Sotomayor, however, replaces Souter, so when she's confirmed, it's unlikely to have any immediate impact on affirmative action cases.

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