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Ricci v. DeStefano

Docket No.: 07-1428
Certiorari Granted: 1/9/2009
Argued: April 22, 2009
Decided: June 29, 2009
Consolidated with: Ricci v. DeStefano, No. 08-328

PartyNames: Frank Ricci, et al. v. John DeStefano, et al.
Petitioner: Frank Ricci et al.
Respondent: John DiStefano et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Frank Ricci et al.
v.
John DiStefano et al.
Background:

This case presents recurring issues regarding proper application of Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause to the civil service. Petitioners, New Haven firefighters and lieutenants, qualified for promotion to command positions pursuant to job-related examinations and merit selection rules mandated by local law. Citing the race of the successful candidates and Title VII's "disparate impact" provision, city officials refused to promote the petitioners.

Question Presented:

1. When an otherwise valid civil service selection process yields unintended racially disproportionate results, may municipalities reject the results and the successful candidates for reasons of race absent the demonstration required by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e- 2(k)? 2. Does 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2(l) which makes it unlawful for employers "to adjust the scores of, use different cutoff scores for, or otherwise alter the results of, employment related tests on the basis of race ... ," permit employers to refuse to act on the results of such tests for reasons of race? 3. If, citing the public interest in eradicating political patronage, racism and corruption in civil service, a state's highest court mandates strict compliance with local laws requiring race-blind competitive merit selection procedures, does 42 U.S.C. §2000e-7 permit federal courts to relieve municipalities from compliance with such laws?

Question:

1) Can a municipality reject results from an otherwise valid civil service exam when the results unintentionally prevent the promotion of minority candidates? 2) Does 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e permit federal courts to relieve municipalities from having to comply with local laws that require strict compliance with race-blind merit selection procedures?

Note:

EXPEDITED BRIEFING SCHEDULE.

Holding: reversed and remanded
Vote: 5-4
Opinion By: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
Read RICCI V. DESTEFANO opinion (PDF)