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City Journal: Fighting Fire with Quotas

by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal 24 October 2010

A fierce constitutional battle is being waged between an out-of- Outraged control federal judge determined to impose racial quotas on New York City’s fire department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, equally determined to resist race-based hiring. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis appointed himself the city’s de facto fire commissioner last week by enjoining the department from hiring any new firefighters without his approval—and he will give his approval only to the racial hiring schemes he has already tried to foist on the department.

Mayor Bloomberg has courageously refused to cave in to the judge’s quota demands—a stance vanishingly rare in today’s politically correct world. His refusal is justified, both legally and as a matter of policy. Judge Garaufis’s rulings have been capricious and biased, creating new law while ignoring facts that undercut his radical new doctrines. And Garaufis’s ultimate goal—to craft a future hiring process based on racial considerations—would put the city’s residents at risk by making skin color as important a qualification for firefighters as actual preparedness.

Since 2007, Garaufis has presided over a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of black firefighters. The suit charged the FDNY with discrimination against blacks, in light of blacks’ low representation—4 percent—in the FDNY, compared with their representation in the city population—24 percent. (Hispanics were eventually added to the category of alleged

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