Charles Krauthammer skewers Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissenting opinion in the New Haven firefighters case (Ricci vs. DeStefano):
The defenders of the old racial order, led by Ginsburg, objected sternly, declaring that the white firefighters "had no vested right to promotion." Of course they didn't, but they did have a vested right to fairness, to not being denied promotion because of their skin color.
Of course no one has a vested right to promotion. Isn't that why they gave those tests in the first place? Isn't that why for the past, oh, 125 years we have been using objective civil service exams to allocate government jobs not on the basis of right -- or patronage or favoritism or racially discriminatory advantage -- but on the basis of merit and job-related skill?
It's the Ginsburg dissent that, in effect, grants a vested right to promotion -- to African Americans, simply because of their race -- and makes the frustration of that specious right the basis for denying promotion to white (and Hispanic) firefighters who had objectively qualified for promotion.
Krauthammer then goes on to predict the twilight of affirmative action:
The major conundrum of the civil rights age remains. The 14th Amendment bans discrimination on the basis of race. But the Civil Rights Act, which bans "disparate impact" discrimination -- procedures (such as exams) that yield racially unbalanced results -- affirmatively mandates racial favoritism to undo those results. The evil day will come, writes Justice Antonin Scalia in his concurrence, when this contradiction will have to be resolved.
He is right. For decades we have been finessing the issue with a mess of compromises, euphemisms, incoherences and pretenses such as banning racial quotas but promoting racial "goals." Anyone who has ever had to make hiring or admission decisions knows that this angel-on-the-head-of-pin distinction is 95 percent a matter of appearances, gestures and lawsuit-avoiding paperwork.
As Krauthammer explains, it's hard to see why we still need affirmative action in an age when blacks hold the highest office in the land as well as the highest office in many of our major cities. Yet old ideas die hard on the left. Yesterday while on the road I was listening to a radio show out of Buffalo and heard a liberal guest named Brad Bannon opine that Ricci was poorly decided by judge Sotomayor and her colleagues, but that what New Haven should have done to ensure that blacks did well on the test is award them points at the start so that their final scores would be competitive. He was completely serious.
This is classic progressive thinking. It is at once manifestly unfair to whites and grossly insulting, and harmful, to blacks. It tells blacks that they shouldn't be expected to study hard for a promotion like everyone else. It tells them that expecting them to actually know something is an injustice. It tells them that they're too dumb, by virtue of being black (or Hispanic), to compete intellectually with whites and Asians so the city will give them a head start. I can't imagine being black and not being deeply insulted by this. It's exactly the sort of dopey racism-with-a-smile that many whites remember cringing at when they heard it from their parents and grandparents, and it still exists today among progressives like Ginsburg and Brad Bannon.RLC