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Trump Administration Plan to End Race-Based Hiring Draws Muted Praise

Jul 25, 2018 | by William Perry Pendley

Thousands of qualified air traffic controller applicants rejected
by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) because of their race still await justice.

DENVER, CO.  Yesterday, the Trump administration announced that it will no longer use a test devised by the Obama administration to facilitate the hiring of air traffic controllers (ATCs) based on their race.  Appearing on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Steven G. Bradbury, General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation, announced an end to the use of the test, a “Biographical Questionnaire,” that has been condemned as the epitome of psychobabble.  Tucker Carlson, in three earlier shows decrying the Obama administration’s test, faulted its denigration of anyone with a military background, aviation training, or an aptitude for science.  Left undiscussed by Mr. Bradbury was the fate of Andrew J. Brigida and the 3,500 other ATC applicants like him.  Mountain States Legal Foundation, which represents Mr. Brigida and those other individuals who met the FAA’s requirements but were rejected due to their race, praised the move but cautioned that there is more work to do in order to correct the injustice inflicted by Obama’s FAA. 

“We are pleased the Trump administration ended the government’s odious use of race to hire people who guide 87,000 flights a day across American,” said William Perry Pendley, president of Mountain States Legal Foundation.  “It is unconstitutional, illegal, and dangerous.  We must, however, fight on for the constitutional rights of Andrew Brigida and others like him who but for the Obama administration hiring on the basis of race would be in control towers.”

Christian Corrigan who argued and won a motion for a federal district court to reinstate the constitutional relief sought by Mr. Brigida, said, “We are ready, willing, and able to go forward to achieve the full relief that these young men and women deserve.”

The lawsuit was filed in December of 2015, charging violation of the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The class of 2,000 to 3,500 individuals is represented by Andrew J. Brigida who holds two B.S. aviation degrees from Arizona State University and scored 100 percent on the FAA’s ATC aptitude test.  The Arizona federal district court dismissed the equal protection count, limited the remedies available to Mr. Brigida, dismissed some of the defendants, and transferred the case to Washington, D.C.  Michael Pearson, Esq., a former ATC of Curry, Pearson & Wooten, PLC in Phoenix, is local counsel. 

Beginning in 1991, to ensure the availability of well qualified applicants to replace the steady and increasing stream of retiring ATCs—for whom the mandatory retirement age is 56—the FAA collaborated with universities and colleges to create accredited degree programs in diverse Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) schools.  Then, the FAA gave a hiring preference to veterans, those with CTI program degrees, references from CTI administrators, and “well qualified” rankings on the challenging Air Traffic Selection and Training exam (AT-SAT)—a validated, proctored, eight-hour, computer-based test.

In May of 2013, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced plans to “transform” the FAA into “a more diverse and inclusive workplace….”  The announcement was accompanied by a suspect analysis that purported to show women and minorities as “underrepresented” in those the FAA hired.  In December of 2013, the FAA began its new hiring process and told 2,000 to 3,500 trained and qualified graduates of CTI programs and veterans—who were on the FAA’s referral list and ready for immediate hire—that:  their AT-SAT scores were not valid; they would be required to pass a non-validated and non-monitored “Biographical Questionnaire” before being able to retake the AT-SAT; and they must then reapply.  The FAA “purged” its files of the 2,000 to 3,500 trained and qualified CTI graduates and veterans and opened the position to all English-speaking citizens with high school diplomas.

 Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system.  Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.

For more information:  Brigida v. U.S. Department of Transportation



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