New Haven firefighters Frank Ricci and Benjamin Vargas talked emotionally about how hard they studied for a promotion test that was thrown out by city officials because too few minorities did well.
Ricci and Vargas stressed that the test was clearly related to their job, which requires fast decisions and a broad understanding of fires and rescue techniques. Vargas, who is Hispanic, and Ricci, who is dyslexic, said they threw themselves into preparation for the test to make sure they were promoted.
"I studied harder than I ever have before," said Ricci, running his finger across the page as he read from a statement. "Reading. Making flash cards. Reading again. ... Listening to tapes."
Ricci said he was a virtual absentee father and husband while studying. Vargas said he ignored his family for three months, surrounding his basement desk with photos of his three sons to remind himself that he was working to make their futures better. His wife, a teacher, took time off from work so he could focus on the test. He eventually checked into a hotel to cram.
"I was shocked when I was not rewarded for this hard work," Vargas testified.
Ricci and Vargas joined other plaintiffs in a racial bias lawsuit against the city. Sotomayor was part of a three-judge panel that ruled against the firefighters. That ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court, and opponents have been highly critical of Sotomayor's decision in the case.
Source-Michael Giarrusso, AP editor