Yesterday at McClatchy:
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.
What is “troubled and litigious work history”, pray tell?
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.
Politics of personal destruction didn’t take long: Today at Salon, Dahlia Lithwick is already saying, Fire Proof: The New Haven firefighter is no stranger to employment disputes.
The NYT has an article on Ben Vargas (h/t Volokh, another one of the firefighters who were denied promotion over Sotomayor’s decision. Like Sotomayor, Vargas was born and raised in the Continental US of Puerto Rican parents.
…by electing on Feb. 15, 2008, to dispose of the case by a cursory, unsigned summary order, Judges Sotomayor, Rosemary Pooler and Robert Sack avoided circulating the decision in a way likely to bring it to the attention of other 2nd Circuit judges, including the six who later voted to rehear the case.
And if the Ricci case — which ended up producing one of the Supreme Court’s most important race decisions in many years — had not come to the attention of those six judges, it would have been an unlikely candidate for Supreme Court review. The justices almost never review summary orders, which represent the unanimous judgment of three appellate judges that the case in question presents no important issues.
Read the rest (and here’s Judge Jose Cabranes bio)