DOJ, Diversity, and Low Expectations
In response, the Civil Service Board's Giselle Johnson , who actually knows what's required for the job and has since resigned, said the city's firefighters "are either EMT or paramedics and do a lot of report writing." The consulting firm's CEO, Dan Biddle, fired back at the DOJ (emphases in original):
Only at this point, two months after the exams were given, has the DOJ made any assertion about the unfairness or impropriety of the selection exam, much less that the tests are not valid. This complete reversal and flip-flop of judgment contradicts DOJ's position prior to test administration, i.e. that the test was valid. Given that the only new information introduced after test administration was test scores and passing rates by race, it is not a difficult leap to conclude that the DOJ's decision to contradict their prior position is driven solely by test scores and passing rates by race.…In fact, it is illegal and in direct violation of Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Nevertheless, Dayton complied. Under the previous requirements, candidates had to get 66 percent correct on one part of the exam and 72 percent on the other. The city dropped the requirements to 58 percent and 63 percent. (How would lowering standards result in more black police officers? Wouldn't more whites qualify? See my human-accomplishment analogy.)
In April, Dayton decided to eliminate the written exam altogether and recruit based on subjective oral interviews. The city threw out all scores because too many whites passed. Should the white candidates decide to sue, they might have a huge legal leg to stand on. Seven years ago, the city of New Haven, Connecticut, tossed promotion exam scores because too few minorities scored high enough to qualify. A group of mostly white firefighters sued, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
New Haven claimed it threw out exam scores for fear of "disparate impact" liability. Ruling against the city, the court contended in Ricci v. DeStefano (2009) that before employers decide to discriminate against one group to avoid a lawsuit from another, they must have a "strong basis in evidence" to believe they'd be liable. Score disparities alone don't qualify. New Haven would have been liable only if the exam wasn't job related or consistent with business necessity, or if there was an equally valid, less discriminatory test the city refused to use. Frank Ricci and his colleagues eventually received their hard-won promotions.
The purpose of civil rights laws is to remove racial considerations from the selection process, and civil service exams were created to ensure that candidates are hired for government jobs on merit and not on political patronage or personal favor. The government has subverted the process in favor of one where "diversity," not fairness or merit, has become the highest principle.