Schumer previews Sotomayor's affirmative action message

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) previewed the Democratic defense of Sonia Sotomayor's controversial affirmative action ruling today, framing the issue as one of deference to local officials.

The background: white firefighters in New Haven had sued the city for promoting minority candidates who had scored lower than the white plaintiffs on a qualifying exam.

A lower court ruled in favor of the city, and Sotomayor, as part of a three judge panel, upheld that ruling. The Supreme Court will likely issue a decision on the case, Ricci v. DeStefano, sometime next month (just as Sotomayor's hearings on getting underway, coincidentally.)

Schumer said today that Sotomayor was simply showing deference to local elected officials.

"It was the city of New Haven that requested not to use the test," he said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "And in a certain sense she wasn't being an activist by overturning the city of New Haven. Had New Haven said 'we want to throw out the test,' and then they were overruled, it would be far more a case of activism."

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Conservatives, most likely, will claim that alleged "reverse racism" is one of the instances in which judicial intervention IS warranted.