7.14.2009

Good Point, Glenn Greenwald

Read his blog a few times and you will come to understand at least one thing about Glenn Greenwald: He's on a mission.

The mission is multifaceted, and his approach is educated by his experience as a constitutional law and civil rights litigator. And he has little patience for weak intellectual arguments and/or scurrilous revision of history.

Over the past two days, Greenwald had a Twitter moment covering the confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor. But the good point that earned him this post was actually a question--a question about a question on which GOP Senators are currently (and urgently) fixated.
Two weeks ago, Alito cast the deciding vote in Ricci v. DeStefano, an intensely contested affirmative action case. He did so by ruling in favor of the Italian-American firefighters, finding that they were unlawfully discriminated against, even though the district court judge who heard all the evidence and the three-judge appellate panel ruled against them and dismissed their case. Notably, the majority Supreme Court opinion Alito joined (.pdf) began by highlighting not the relevant legal doctrine, but rather, the emotional factors that made the Italian-American-plaintiffs empathetic.

Did Alito's Italian-American ethnic background cause him to cast his vote in favor of the Italian-American plaintiffs? Has anyone raised that question? Given that he himself said that he "do[es] take that into account" -- and given that Sonia Sotomayor spent 6 straight hours today being accused by GOP Senators and Fox News commentators of allowing her Puerto Rican heritage to lead her to discriminate against white litigants -- why isn't that question being asked about Alito's vote in Ricci?

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