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Ricci v. DeStefano

United States Supreme Court
557 U.S. 557 (2009)


Facts

Firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut (the city) had to take a written exam before they could be promoted to lieutenant or captain. The pass rate for white candidates on the captain exam was 64 percent; for black and Hispanic candidates, it was 37.5 percent. The pass rate on the lieutenant exam for white candidates was 58.1 percent; for black and Hispanic candidates it was 31.6 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Based on the exam results, only white and Hispanic firefighters, and no African Americans, would be promoted. The city was faced between two lawsuits. If the city used the test scores, it would be sued by those denied promotions. Alternately, if the city did not use the test scores, it would be sued by those who would have been promoted if it had. The city decided not to use the test to make promotion decisions. White and Hispanic firefighters sued the city, arguing that they had been denied promotions in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

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