When the city of New Haven, Connecticut, learned that no black firefighters who had taken an officers test would be eligible for promotion, it scrapped the test out of fear that it was in violation of the Civil Rights Act and could result in a lawsuit. This became the basis of the now-famous Ricci vs. DeStefano case, in which Sonia Sotomayor and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals found that New Haven acted within its bounds, only to be later reversed by the Supreme Court. Now New York has its own sort of Ricci case on its hands. Yesterday, in response to a class-action lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department in 2007, federal judge Nicholas G. Garaufi ruled that the written exam the FDNY has been giving to prospective firefighters for years has been biased against minority applicants and since the city was already aware of this, it was intentionally discriminatory to continue offering the exam. “I can’t recall there ever being a finding of intentional racial discrimination in a pattern-and-practice case against the city,” Elise C. Boddie, a professor of constitutional law at New York Law School, told the Times. “I would say this is pretty big.”
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