lundi, juin 29, 2009

White guys for white guys

Pondering two SCOTUS decisions today... one will make it much harder to prove disparate impact and may adversely affect certain racial groups and the other is just as scary.

The crucial question in the first case: will the standard of "disparate impact" end up eventually being thrown out by the court? I have a feeling that Justice Scalia wouldn't mind if it was.

My own, less intellectual question -- Is it any wonder a group of white guys ruled in favor of another group of white guys in the New Haven affirmative action case?

I have to ask myself. Would I feel this skeptical if the court was majority women and minority and the vote had gone the other way?

Yeah, probably-- but I'd cut them more slack because I believe in disparate impact. In New Haven, the firefighters simply don't reflect the city's diversity (50 percent of its population is minority).

I have to have more faith. Although I'm having a tough time believing that the Court is much more than a bunch of political hacks. It's a lot more complex -- isn't it?

What few appear to want to address is the idea that a standardized exam might not be the best way of benchmarking leadership. We're seeing some movement on this, but not fast enough. The whole idea that intelligence can be evaluated through a test, or that intelligences can be evaluated only through tests, is too often disputed in theory but honored in substance. As the mother of an ADHD child, I have witnessed her left to drift in a public school system where the conventionally intelligent flourish and "average" is perfectly acceptable for the rest.

The Justices live in a world in which principles probably don't usually incarnate themselves as real people you see at the local coffeeshop or Walmart. If they did, we might have less predictable split rulings.

The other decision was to rehear, in September, the arguments on corporations and finance reform. Apparently the choice to ask for these arguments again signals that the Court may toss all or most of the campaign finance laws. Why? Because restrictions on corporations that have videos advising you to vote for or against certain candidate may violate the free speech...of the corporation.

I can see a shred of logic in the first decision, especially given that the unsigned appellate court ruling was only one paragraph (and yes, Judge Sotomayor, who is on that court, will get lots of questions on that). Maybe New Haven could have found a better remedy. Maybe judges should show a little creativity.

But to claim that limits on corporate propaganda violates a corporation's free speech rights? Talk about disparate impact.

They darn well better do better than that.

1 commentaire:

norman pease a dit…

I would have to see the test to form an opinon on the case. I do know standardized tests in the public schools do make it more difficult for ESL students and the disadvantaged. Was the tests unfairness raised before most of the white guys got the best scores? Is it possible they just studied more? Wether or not a test actually measures what it is designed for is another question. but not for the courts.