Bush Justice Department sues Indiana city for discriminating against whites
John Byrne and Diana Sweet
Published: Tuesday January 13, 2009

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The Bush Administration's Department of Justice announced Monday that they are suing the city of Gary, Indiana for discriminating against white people.

On Monday, the Justice Department announced a lawsuit against the Indiana city, alleging that six EMT technicians appear to have been hired on the basis of race alone in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- which was passed to combat discrimination against African Americans.

The suit alleges that the city told applicants that offers of employment would be based on the order they were ranked. But the city seems to have ignored their own ordering and instead hired several African American applicants who placed lower than the white applicants.

Each of the six who were hired ranked lower than the highest-ranking white applicant, the Justice Department wrote.

"Federal law guarantees equal access to employment opportunities without regard to race," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Departmentís Civil Rights Division, said in a release. "The Department is committed to enforcing all the federal civil rights laws, including Title VII, under its jurisdiction."

Gary's corporate counsel, Hamilton Carmouche, told a local paper the list was prepared by the city's previous mayor, and gave preference to applicants who lived in Gary.

"We hire not on the basis of any race, but on the basis of residency," Carmouche said.

Use of the Civil Rights Act to protect against discrimination against whites is not unprecedented, but it is a novel tactic by the Bush Administration's lawyers.

Ironically, the Administration hasn't been a big fan of expanding civil rights law.

Earlier this year, the White House fought efforts to elimination a statute of limitations measure that prevents employees from suing their employers for hiring discrimination if they don't file suit with 180 days from the date of the discriminatory activity.

The so-called Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, named after a female manager at an Alabama tire plant who discovered that her employer had hired her on different pay scale years before because she was a woman, found she couldn't sue her employer because the 180-day window had passed. The measure has passed the House and Senate and was co-sponsored by then-senator Barack Obama (D-IL)

In the statement at the time, the White House said the measure "effectively eliminates any time requirement for filing a claim involving compensation discrimination" and "would serve to impede justice and undermine the important goal of having allegations of discrimination expeditiously resolved."