Theodore's World: Sotomayor Backers Urge Reporters to Probe New Haven Firefighter

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July 12, 2009

Sotomayor Backers Urge Reporters to Probe New Haven Firefighter

New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci.

Sotomayor backers urge reporters to probe New Haven firefighter


Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor are quietly targeting the Connecticut firefighter who's at the center of Sotomayor's most controversial ruling.

On the eve of Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearing, her advocates have been urging journalists to scrutinize what one called the "troubled and litigious work history" of firefighter Frank Ricci.

This is opposition research: a constant shadow on Capitol Hill.

"The whole business of getting Supreme Court nominees through the process has become bloodsport," said Gary Rose, a government and politics professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

On Friday, citing in an e-mail "Frank Ricci's troubled and litigious work history," the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way drew reporters' attention to Ricci's past. Other advocates for Sotomayor have discreetly urged journalists to pursue similar story lines.

Specifically, the advocates have zeroed in on an earlier 1995 lawsuit Ricci filed claiming the city of New Haven discriminated against him because he's dyslexic. The advocates cite other Hartford Courant stories from the same era recounting how Ricci was fired by a fire department in Middletown, Conn., allegedly, Ricci said at the time, because of safety concerns he raised.

The Middletown-area fire department was subsequently fined for safety violations, but the Connecticut Department of Labor dismissed Ricci's retaliation complaint.

No People for the American Way officials could be reached Friday to speak on the record about the press campaign.

"To go after so sympathetic a plaintiff as Frank Ricci . . . is a new low in the politics of personal destruction," said Roger Pilon, the director of the libertarian Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies. "If they were smart, they'd keep a low profile."

Ricci, though, has his own advocates, including conservative commentators such as CNN's Lou Dobbs and Fox's Sean Hannity.

Nor is he the only Supreme Court confirmation witness to receive sharp elbows. In 1991, for instance, then-Senate Minority Leader Alan Simpson of Wyoming warned that witness Anita Hill would be "injured and destroyed and belittled and hounded and harassed" if she testified against nominee Clarence Thomas. Hill was preparing to testify that she'd been sexually harassed by Thomas.

Hill's subsequent testimony threw into question Thomas's confirmation, during a hearing he likened to a "high-tech lynching." A closely divided Senate ultimately confirmed him.

The 35-year-old Ricci was the lead plaintiff in the case Ricci v. DeStefano, challenging New Haven's refusal to promote white firefighters after African-American and all but one Hispanic firefighters failed to score high enough on a promotion exam.

Sotomayor and a majority of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the city's claim that it was justifiably concerned about a potential civil rights suit being filed by the African-American firefighters.

"Sotomayor and her panel colleagues were bound by long-standing precedent and federal law," People for the American Way executive vice president Marge Baker said in a June statement. "They applied the law without regard to their personal views."

Last month, however, the Supreme Court overturned the 2nd Circuit by 5-4.

"Once . . . employers have made clear their selection criteria, they may not then invalidate the test results, thus upsetting an employee's legitimate expectation not to be judged on the basis of race," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.

With his awards for bravery, some 17 years of fire department service and history of overcoming dyslexia, Ricci has become a compelling human character in the Sotomayor confirmation drama. Senate Republicans have summoned him, along with Lt. Ben Vargas of the New Haven Fire Department, as two of their 14 witnesses next week.

Though even Republicans concede Sotomayor appears poised to win confirmation, the hearing — and Ricci's part in them — could be exploited politically. The case is symbolic of race-based preferences, which conservatives have long rejected.

"Affirmative action remains a potentially useful issue for the GOP," Rose noted, and "this case has the potential of perhaps mobilizing the Republican party again."

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina added that many Americans can identify with Ricci, making him an especially attractive witness for the GOP and potentially dangerous for Democrats.

"He took on a second job and worked hard, but was denied due to the same legal concepts" that were designed to protect people's rights, Graham said.

Wild Thing's comment.......

The “politics of personal destruction” raises its ugly head once again. This is a sure sign of desperation.

This is ialso one of the reasons these creeps want to go after the firefighter.

This guy has a great story. A very hard working and deserving man who was callously thrown under the bus by a very flippant and superficial ruling by Sotomayer.

Washington (AP/WTNH) - Republicans plan to call a white firefighter whose reverse discrimination claim was rejected by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to testify against her.
New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci brought a lawsuit challenging his city's decision to scrap the results of a promotion test because too few minorities scored highly enough to qualify. He's one of 14 witnesses Republicans will call during Senate hearings on Sotomayor's confirmation that open Monday.
Sotomayor was part of an appellate court panel that rejected Ricci's claim. The Supreme Court reversed the ruling last week.


....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at July 12, 2009 05:49 AM


This is just so wrong on so many levels. These firefighters worked hard to get those promotions and then they were denied because of their race. That stinks to high heaven. Sotomayor should not even be in the running because she is part of LaRaza, which discriminates against people for their race. I feel for the firefighters. They should have gotten the promotions and those who did not should have been told to try harder next time. I'm sorry no black guy got close enough, but too bad. They want equality? Then they need to take the disappointments that come with it.

Posted by: Lynn at July 12, 2009 06:55 AM

This nomination is worse than Bush's Harriet Myers nomination, except, Myers had a brain and thinking for herself was not a new experience.

Sotomayor, is one of the democRATS clones made possible by Affirmative Action. Follows the Left-wing party line and is a judicial activist. The one thing we don't need, another of, on the Supreme Court. Most of her decisions and opinions have been overturned by the Supreme Court because they violate the Constitution but satisfied the liberal paradigm.

It didn't matter to her that no Blacks had qualified fot the test and were not eligible from the beginning, Her problem was there were too many Whites who had passed the test, and one Hispanic. That made it UNFAIR.

This PC crap is destroying us.

Posted by: Mark at July 12, 2009 09:24 AM

According to affirmative action guidelines, we need more White criminals. Especially in the field of White on Black crime. And the Asians are really underrepreseted. We need more Asian criminals.

Posted by: TomR at July 12, 2009 12:04 PM

Ah, the Joe the Plumber treatment... ad hominem attacks are the height of liberal debate (otherwise they "frame" annoying facts away and pretend they don't exist). And, did you notice how Ricci has become "white" and unworthy of respect for liberals?

Posted by: Anonymous at July 12, 2009 12:16 PM

This is a man who puts his life on the line for other and Democrats are going to tear into him. I'm really starting to hate Democrats.

Posted by: BobF at July 12, 2009 06:01 PM

Lynn, I agree so much, it is such a simple
thing. Take the test, if the person passes
then good, but they want exceptions made
and the test to redone so it is not so
difficult. Live of people they rescue
are at stake in making it easy to pass
the tests.

Well said Lynn.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 12, 2009 11:23 PM

Mark, it sure is, PC without making it a
law has practicially become one. Not at this
blog but it sure has out in the world and
work place.

I just heard tonight on FOX that Sotomayor
said that same statememt that is so racist
6 times. Charles Krauthammer was talking
about it and the two dems agreed that she
has stated even within the last couple of
weeks again. The one about how she
knows better then a white man.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 12, 2009 11:29 PM

Tom, yes we are way behind.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 12, 2009 11:37 PM

Anonymous, your rigiht, there was Joe
the Plumber and now Frank the firefighter.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 12, 2009 11:41 PM

BobF., yes that is what their plan
is, to really go after this man.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 12, 2009 11:44 PM