Happy Birthday, OurValues! Today is the 1st anniversary of OurValues.org! Our discussion of values and ethics in America began on June 30, 2008, and has roamed far and wide across America’s moral terrain. Thank you for being an important part of it!
TODAY, chime in on our July 4-themed conversation.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, concluding that they were victims of racial discrimination. This was a high visibility decision because it reversed a decision endorsed by Sonia Sotomayor, Obama’s nominee to be the next justice of the nation’s highest court.
For me, the interesting aspect of this decision is not that it reversed Sotomayor’s decision as an appeals court judge. No doubt her detractors will use the high court’s decision as more ammunition against her. But the interesting aspect is that the decision was entirely along “party” lines.
The particulars: White and minority firefighters in New Haven took an exam for promotion to lieutenant or captain. No African Americans and only a few Latinos were likely to be promoted based on the exam results, so New Haven threw out the test results for everyone.
What do I mean by party lines? The decision was a close one, 5 to 4. The five justices were Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy. These five are among the 10 most conservative justices since 1937, according to an analysis of court rulings. (Thomas is the most conservative of all 43 justices since 1937.)
The minority opinion was endorsed by Souter, Breyer, Stevens, and Ginsburg—among the most liberal justices, according to the same analysis.
This decision, then, is emblematic of the divide I talked about yesterday: “originalists” (those who believe the meaning of the Constitution does not change over time) versus proponents of the “living Constitution” (those who believe the Constitution should be interpreted in the context of the times).
What do you make of the high court’s decision?
So, please, ADD A COMMENT about this specific issue—or about values that unite or divide Americans in general. What other divisions do you see? What other signs of unity?
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