The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which often has jurisdiction over civil rights issues, is warning that today's Ricci decision could have a negative impact on attempts to fight workplace discrimination.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released a statement saying that the majority's decision "interprets the critical protections of Title VII in a way never intended by Congress when it passed this landmark law to prevent workplace discrimination more than 40 years ago."
In his opinion for the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the City of New Haven failed to "demonstrate a strong basis in evidence" that it would have lost a suit that minority firefighters could have brought if the city had not thrown out the results of a promotions exam.
Leahy added: "It is less likely now that employers will conscientiously try to fulfill their obligations under this time-honored civil rights law. This is a cramped decision that threatens to erode these protections and to harm the efforts of state and local governments that want to build the most qualified workforces."
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, praised the decision, calling New Haven's actions discriminatory.
“No individual should be denied a promotion simply based on the color of their skin," Smith said in a statement. "The Second Circuit wrongly upheld a decision that supports discrimination by the government. The Supreme Court today reminded all courts and governments that equal justice under the law means refusing to tip the scale in favor of one race over another."