NAACP Falsely Claims Potential Trump SCOTUS Nominee Ruled Against Black Worker's 'Separate-but-Equal' Claim

Amy Coney Barrett / C-SPAN
July 3, 2018

An arm of the NAACP on Monday falsely accused a potential Trump nominee of ruling against a black worker in a discrimination claim.

"As a judge, Amy Coney Barrett sided against an Black worker in favor of a company’s 'separate-but-equal arrangement,' flying in the face of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," read a now-deleted tweet from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. "Now, she’s being considered for a lifetime seat on our nation’s highest court. #SaveSCOTUS #StopBarrett."

Other progressive organizations making the same claim against the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge and former Notre Dame law professor include the Alliance for Justice and the Center for American Progress.

"As a judge, Barrett sided against an African American worker who had been transferred to another store because of a company’s policy of segregating their employees by race and ethnicity, finding that the company’s 'separate-but-equal arrangement is permissible,'" complained AFJ.

Likewise, CAP's "Why Courts Matter" account claimed Barrett "sided against an African American worker in favor of a company’s 'separate-but-equal arrangement,' flying in the face of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

The only Seventh Circuit case matching that description was Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. AutoZone, Inc., in which a black AutoZone manager claimed he was transferred from a store with a mostly Hispanic clientele to change the store's ethnic makeup. The EEOC sued, claiming AutoZone was violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal for businesses "limit, segregate, or classify his employees … in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."

But Barrett wasn't even on the Seventh Circuit at the time that case was decided. On June 20, 2017, a three-judge panel ruled 3-0 against the AutoZone employee, ruling that because his pay, benefits, and responsibilities did not change with the transfer, he was not "adversely affect[ed]" under the statute. Barrett wasn't confirmed by the Senate until October 2017.

Barrett was seated a month later and joined a per curiam refusal to have the full Seventh Circuit rehear EEOC v. Autozone. But ruling against an "en banc"  hearing in no way indicates the judge necessarily agreed with the original decision. Decisions to rehear cases are exceedingly rare; of the 1,479 cases the Seventh Circuit heard in 2010, it only agreed to hear five en banc sessions.