New Haven (WTNH) - A reverse discrimination lawsuit filed by 20 New Haven
firefighters will soon go before the United States Supreme
In less than two weeks, the highest court in the land is
preparing to hear a case out of New Haven that could have
ramifications for civil rights practices across the country.
"I think the case is monumental because we really need to see
where we are going," said Karen Torre, lawyer for the New Haven
Karen Torre represents the firefighters who have filed a reverse
discrimination lawsuit after a 2003 promotional exam. The results
were thrown out by the city because the top scorers were white.
"What the city did was turn a race neutral, race blind,
merit-based promotional process into a race conscious process by
race coding the candidates and looking at the results of the
competition and the skin color of the successful candidates and
making a decision on that basis," Torre said.
But Victor Bolden, the city's acting corporation counsel, says
this issue isn't about discrimination. He says the test is
"The city was clearly faced with litigation if it went ahead and
promoted. If you are faced with litigation why would you complicate
things by promoting," Bolden said.
This could be a landmark decision - the first of its kind in
decades - a ruling that could change the racial dynamics of the
"If we have gotten to that point in society, where people can be
sued on claims of race discrimination, without any real evidence
they were trying to discriminate, then we have a real problem,"
"Are we going to go forward, and stay true to the Constitution's
promise of a race-blind society - or are we going to go backwards,
and keep labeling people," Torre questioned.