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Connecticut firefighter, Frank Ricci, will testify on Thursday in the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. What he knows about Supreme Court Justice qualifications, I have no idea. But he'll make a good prop for the circus Republicans are hoping to run in the Senate hearing room this week.
Frank Ricci is a white New Haven, Conn., firefighter, who is one of the GOP's showcase witnesses on Thursday. His reverse-discrimination suit against the city of New Haven was rejected by a three-judge appeals court panel that included Sotomayor.
Liberal groups and bloggers are noting that Ricci, who has dyslexia, got his firefighting job in New Haven "by claiming discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects Americans from discrimination over disabilities."
Marge Baker, People for the American Way's vice president, says: "I don't think Mr. Ricci thought that his being hired was a case of reverse discrimination against those who weren't disabled ... You can't have it both ways; these laws can't be good when you use them to protect yourself and bad when they're used to protect someone else."
Republicans and conservatives are calling this a smear campaign. GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said: "it is beneath both contempt and the dignity that this process demands." Conservative bloggers and at least one conservative group, the Judicial Confirmation Network, are trying to rally conservatives behind Ricci.
It's interesting to note that Republicans, like Hatch, are complaining about the potential "smearing" of a witness, a witness who is testifying for the purpose of smearing Judge Sotomayor.
Meet the real...... Mr. Ricci....
According to local newspapers, Ricci filed his first lawsuit against the city of New Haven in 1995, at the ripe old age of 20, for failing to hire him as a firefighter. That January, the Hartford Chronicle reported that Ricci sued, saying "he was not hired because he is dyslexic." The complaint in that suit, filed in federal court, alleged that the city's failure to hire Ricci because of his dyslexia violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Frank Ricci was one of 795 candidates interviewed for 40 jobs. According to his complaint, the reason he was not hired was that he disclosed his dyslexia in an interview. That case was settled in 1997 with a confidential settlement in which Ricci withdrew his lawsuit in exchange for a job with the fire department and $11,143 in attorney's fees.
That was just the beginning....
August 11, 1998, Ricci was dismissed from the Middletown fire department after only eight months. He promptly appealed his dismissal, claiming that fire officials had retaliated against him for conducting an investigation into the department's response to a controversial fire. A story in the Hartford Courant dated Aug. 9, 1997, has Ricci vowing "to pursue this to the fullest extent of the law."
In August of 1998, a state Department of Labor investigation cleared Chief Wayne S. Bartolotta of any wrongdoing in the firing. The Aug. 3, 1998, letter from the state Department of Labor indicated that the case was closed with a finding of no violation. "After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the South Fire District did not discriminate against Mr. Ricci." Ricci's response? According to the Courant, Ricci contended "Their decision was political, it has nothing to do with who was right and who was wrong." He told the paper he would "pursue the matter in civil court."
And all of that led to the New Haven case in which Ricci along with other firefighters sued again. This time because Ricci thought he was entitled to a promotion, and the only reason why, he thought, he didn't get promoted, was because he was discriminated against. Four Supreme Court Justices led by the Activist Chief Justice Roberts agreed to write new law from the bench justifying the Ricci complaint.
Here's a guy who will whine this week that Mean Old Sotomayor didn't make New Haven discriminate in his favor. Wah,wah wah, he studied and he bought books, and did he tell you he was dyslexic? Here's a guy who is the quintessential victim, who will call Sotomayor a discriminatory judge because she wouldn't discriminate in his favor because he was "special." Sotomayor insisted, instead, on following the law, which 5 Supremes then went on to rewrite, you know, all on their own.
Frank Ricci will undoubtedly point to the New Haven case to "prove" that Sotomayor will discriminate against majority whites while favoring minorities. No matter what Mr. Ricci says, Sotomayor violated no one's rights when she agreed with her fellow judges in confirming New Haven's dismissal of the firefighter-promotion test scores. It's clear, to all but 5 activist Supreme Court Justices, that New Haven was attempting to follow Title VII's rules on disparate outcomes. No one who took the test was promoted. No one was discriminated against, including Mr. Ricci.
But I'll guaran-goddamn-tee ya'......Mr. Ricci will make a good stage prop for the GOP show this week. The show is being led on the minority side by ringmaster, Goober in Chief, and former(?) racist, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), perennial circus clowns Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Jon Cornyn (R-TX).....oh yeah, and Golly Gee and Gee Whiz Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) has brought his bag of special morality tricks.
All sides agree Sotomayor will be confirmed. But, hell.....might as well put on a little soap opera political theater so's the mushroomheads watching, you know, the CNN, will stay entertained.
I can hear the freaking chant immediately after Ricci talks on Thursday challenging Judge Sotomayor. McCain will probably blurt out, all crazy-like, "I think it's safe to say, we're all dyslexics now."
The Beacon printed a very good E.J. Dionne (Washington post) column today dealing with the radical nature of the Roberts Court.