Sen. Cornyn: Puerto Rican Firefighter In Ricci Was Discriminated Against Because Of His Race

July 15, 2009 1:21 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Aren't we supposed to believe the white firefighters were denied promotions because of their race? Sen. Cornyn can't have it both ways. 

One of the commonly repeated myths about the New Haven firefighters' case is that the plaintiffs were denied promotions simply because they're white.  In reality, the city decided to throw out the tests they gave to candidates for promotion because the test itself produced "racially skewed outcomes."  As Justice Ginsburg wrote in her dissenting opinion, the "pretension" that the firefighters weren't promoted because of their race "ignores substantial evidence of multiple flaws in the tests New Haven used."

Another fact that's often lost in the debate over Ricci is that one of the firefighters who sued, Benjamin Vargas, is Hispanic.  Addressing the press earlier today, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said he was glad that Vargas, along with Frank Ricci, will be testifying at SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing.  According to Cornyn, Vargas is "a 40-year-old man of Puerto Rican extraction" who was discriminated against "based on the color of his skin." Watch it:

Needless to say, Cornyn is confused.  Aren't we supposed to believe the white firefighters were denied promotions because of their race?  Or was Vargas denied a promotion because of his race.  In reality, neither claim is true.  But one thing that's indisputable is that it can't be both. 

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