Photo of the Seattle City Council
The Seattle City Council faces a dilemma in its popular pledge to cut the police budget by 50 percent. To do this, a significant number of police officers would have to be released, which is also popular. The problem is that the layoff would be seniority and many of the less senior officers are black. According to city councilor Lisa Herbold, the solution is simple: firefighters based on their race. While this would be the definition of racial discrimination, Herbold clearly believes that it is discrimination for a good reason. The federal courts are likely to disagree. Above all, Herbold's call for racial discrimination against white officers would attempt to make Justice Thurgood Marshall's work inappropriate, who insisted that racial discrimination is illegal and evil, regardless of the race you want to disenfranchise or discriminate against.
Carmen Best, Seattle police chief, released a video describing the plan by Herbold and others as "completely ruthless." She also sent a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan, warning that dramatic cuts would require hundreds of officials to be fired. The police department also warned that the layoffs would involve many minority officials.
It was only the last risk that Herbold was concerned with, which immediately proposed to discriminate based on race:
Herbold insists that, despite the prohibitions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this would be perfectly legal.
What concerns me the most is not that such demands for racial discrimination may be constitutional, but that they are clearly popular.
The EEOC extends this point on its website: “It is unlawful to discriminate against an employee or applicant for employment on the basis of race or skin color with regard to recruitment, termination, promotion, compensation, vocational training or any other condition, condition or other privilege employment. "
With this position, Herbold defies one of Thurgood Marshall's best known opinions. In McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transportation Co. (1976) Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote statements calling for a broad interpretation of Title VII to protect everyone. In McDonald, two white employees were fired after a shoplifting. The two white employees were jointly and severally liable with a black employee. However, only the white employees were fired. After suing under Title VII, Marshall wrote for the majority when he denounced such discrimination against white employees, insisted "Racial discrimination in private employment against white (must be) on the same terms as racial discrimination against non-whites. "He denounced the illogicality of keeping guilty employees of one color while firing those of another color." While Marshall would support vigorous positive action (including his dissent in Bakke), he believed that all races were protected from discrimination under federal law.
This would be even more outrageous, of course, since Herbold wants to fire white officers solely because of their race. They would not be accused of wrongdoing or failure. The problem is their race.
It is noteworthy that it is not a measure that is part of, or promotes, a valid positive action plan ordered by a court or approved by a federal agency. See United Steelworkers of America v Weber (1979) and Johnson v Transportation Agency (1987). In Ricci v. DeStefano (2009), the Supreme Court ruled against the city of New Haven after a group of white firefighters and a Hispanic firefighter contested refusal to certify the results of promotion tests to encourage underachieving black firefighters. The Court ruled that the city's refusal to certify the test constituted illegal discrimination under Title VII. If it were found that “racial measures like the city's are ineligible under Title VII in this case, unless the employer can provide a solid basis to demonstrate that he would have been liable under the different effects law if he would not have taken the measures. ”
Herbold would not only refuse to promote due to race, but would also fire officers on that basis. No test. Just a purely racially discriminatory termination program. Parents who participated in community schools against Seattle School District No. 1 (2007) once said Chief Justice John Roberts: "The way to stop racial discrimination is to end racial discrimination." is clearly not the plan of Herbold and one of her colleagues who want to fire officers because of their race.