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U.S. Supreme Court

High Court to Decide Reverse Bias Case as It Ends Term Today

Posted Jun 29, 2009 6:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court will issue a decision today in a case brought by white firefighters challenging a decision to throw out a promotional exam because no blacks got top scores.

White firefighters had argued the city of New Haven, Conn., discriminated against them when it tossed the test. The city had countered that it opted against using the scores because it could face disparate impact claims by minorities under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Associated Press reports. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is the likely swing vote in the case, one of three being decided today as the Supreme Court wraps up its term.

The day will be the last on the high court for Justice David H. Souter, who is retiring. The appeals court judge nominated to replace him, Sonia Sotomayor, had ruled for the city in the reverse bias claim while sitting on the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case is Ricci v. DeStefano.

The other two cases involve campaign finance law and states’ ability to investigate lending bias by national banks.

The campaign finance case, Citizens United v. FEC, asks the justices to decide whether a documentary blasting Hillary Clinton is an electioneering communication subject to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. A second issue is whether the law violates the First Amendment.

In the bank case, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency argues the National Bank Act prevents states from examining lending practices of national banks suspected of charging higher mortgage interest rates to minorities. The case is Cuomo v. The Clearing House Association.

President Barack Obama has proposed changes that would empower states to enforce their own laws, in conjunction with a new federal consumer protection office. The changes would make the banking decision less important, the AP story says.

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