Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It Happened Here, Too

If you listened to NPR this morning, you probably heard Nina Totenberg's typically excellent report on the Supreme Court's decision in Ricci v. DeStefano, No. 07-1428. Totenberg interviewed Richard Primus, a professor at the University of Michigan,* about the decision. Professor Primus talked about the limits of the holding in this case. The argument, which kind of strays into K├╝bler-Ross territory, is that this isn't that big of a deal.

But that's just wrong. A quite similar case arose from a promotional decision made by the Boston Police Department. In that case, Cotter v. City of Boston, First Cir. No. 02-1404,** the white plaintiffs lost. Whether the Cotter case remains good law -- I think it does, just barely -- would make for an interesting article topic.

*Go Blue.
**Full disclosure: I worked on this case when I was a pup, helping out with representation of an intervening party, the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Decisionism Is Just Like Mark Sanford*

Remember how Martha Coakley argued in the U.S. Supreme Court? The thinking at the time was that she did not do so well. Today, unsurprisingly, she lost. It's interesting, though, that the justice who asked her a question that nearly catastrophically tripped her up, Justice Kennedy, wrote an impassioned dissent supporting her position. So you just never know.

*In that it disappears for days and days without explanation. Thankfully, the similarities just about end right there.