Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Arrogance of Judge Garaufis

The arrogant stupidity of Judge Nicholas Garaufis is transcendent-and more and more he is coming to resemble the bumbling ineptitude of Jim Carrey's Fire Marshal Bill of  In Living Color Fame. Carrey's character was constantly interceding inappropriately in any number of situations, and Garaufis' ham handed interference with the FDNY is looking very much the same. The NY Times has the ongoing story: "In blunt, scolding language, a federal judge on Tuesday criticized the city’s conduct during legal negotiations aimed at diversifying the Fire Department, accusing the Bloomberg administration of shirking its responsibility for redressing discrimination and of exaggerating claims about threats to public safety during the dispute."

Let's back up a second, and recall we we said awhile back about Garaufis' peculiar conception of what constitutes discrimination: "But it is we, the citizens of NYC, who are unfortunately bequeathed Judge Garaufis; a man who sees the city's upholding of nondiscriminatory standards as an act of blatant racism simply because not enough minority applicants are scoring high enough. Well, judge, too bad. These tests are well known, in both style and content, and all that any applicant needs to do is study harder. As Coach Lombardi once said, "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."

This point deserves even more emphasis. What Garufis is doing is basing his concept of discrimination on the notion of, "disparate impact"-which basically means that, while the tests may be race neutral, the results aren't; and therefore, there is a need to change the test: "An important thing to note is that adverse impact is not illegal. Adverse impact only becomes illegal if the employer cannot justify the employment practice causing the adverse impact as a "job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity" (1964/1991 Civil Rights Act, Section 2000e-2[k] [1] [A])."

Which leads us to a chorus of, "Here comes the judge." You see, the rub here is the tricky issue of justification-and in regard to fire fighter hiring, the justification is in the eye of Judge The Beholder. Put simply, Garaufis doesn't buy the city's justification, and is going on the sheer fact of adverse impact-as the NY Daily News reports: "In response to a lawsuit filed by the feds, Garaufis ruled last year that there were "overwhelming disparities" in the pass-fail rates between whites and minorities for exams given in 1999 and 2002 which violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

Well, while he's at it, why doesn't he go after the city's school tests which exhibit the same kind of overwhelming disparities? And in the process, he can force Yale and Harvard to submit to the same edict and admit under qualified minority applicants. Oh wait, they're already doing that-but the college affirmative action model doesn't have any disparate impact on the safety of the NYC public.

Firefighting is an elite activity-thankfully so. The high bar that applicants must get over to be admitted into the FDNY is a safeguard for all New Yorkers-but especially those who live in the most vulnerable neighborhoods of the city (where the composition of the population is decidedly non-white). Garaufis' intrusion into the hiring process-with little understanding about what it takes to be a life risking fire fighter-underscores the kind of judicial arrogance that drives many folks nuts.

The fact that the judge wants the city to buy into his quota system is an outrage-and his stance makes the idea of electing federal judge's a truly fascinating concept.