The idea that the City of New York intentionally discriminated against minority applicants to the Fire Department was never more than a misguided misinterpretation of test results, at best, or a demeaning lie at worst.
Now a federal appeals court has agreed that it was wrong for U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis to determine that was the case because too few black and Hispanic applicants to the FDNY managed to pass the department’s entrance exam.
Garaufis, driven by the need to diversify the department —a worthy goal — has hampered its ability to hire new firefighters for years as he presided over a discrimination case launched by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Vulcan Society, the organization of black firefighters. But no more. On Tuesday the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that he was wrong to find the city had intentionally discriminated against minority applicants, in an opinion so strong the court decided the case cannot go back to Garaufis. A new judge who will look at it more fairly must be found.
The city welcomed the decision, though it did leave some of the rules Garaufis imposed on the city in place. Going back to square one would have been better, but at least the idea that the FDNY is less than honorable has been laid to rest. We look forward to a fairer trial.