Ricci does cut a sympathetic figure, as someone who works through adversity just to have the system keep him down. The narrative takes this a step further, lionizing him as the normal joe that the ebil affirmative action and race conscious left just lined up to poo upon. This narrative holds water right up until you read about several things:
1. The lawsuit-ridden and race-conscious history of the New Haven fire department.
2. The history of the case in SCOTUS' official opinion (thanks, Dante). Even the majority opinion points to the test as causing adverse impact, combined with additional departmental factors (the rule of three) that magnified that impact.
3. Ricci's own history of litigating against his employers. Author Dahlia Lithwick sums it up thusly:
Ultimately, there are two ways to frame Frank Ricci's penchant for filing employment discrimination complaints: Perhaps he was repeatedly victimized by a cruel cadre of employers, first for his dyslexia, then again for his role as a whistle-blower, and then a third time for just being white. If that is so, we should all be deeply grateful for the robust civil rights laws that protect Americans from unfair discrimination in the workplace. I look forward to hearing Republican Sen. John Cornyn's version of that speech next week.(Emphasis added, -HR)
The other way to look at Frank Ricci is as a serial plaintiff—one who reacts to professional slights and setbacks by filing suit, threatening to file suit, and more or less complaining his way up the chain of command. That's not the typical GOP heartthrob, but I look forward to hearing Sen. Cornyn's version of that speech next week as well.
Any wagers on which frame either side is going to take next week on television? I didn't think so. If I was running the show to guide the nomination of Sotomayor into SCOTUS, however, I would completely avoid the latter and I wouldn't let even the designated attack dog use that line of reasoning.
What I would use, again and again, is the quote from the SCOTUS majority opinion that overruled the Appellate Court decision the right wishes to highlight with their "reverse racism" narrative:
Courts often confront cases in which statutes and principles point in different directions. Our task is to provide guidance to employers and courts for situations when these two prohibitions could be in conflict absent a rule to reconcile them. Page 20Emphaisis again added, -HR