This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK RICCI, NEW HAVEN, CONN. FIREFIGHTER: Americans have the right to go into our federal courts and have their cases judged based on the Constitution and laws, not on politics or personal feelings. The lower court's belief that citizens should be reduced to racial statistics is flawed. It only divides people who don't wish to be divided along racial lines. The very reason we have civil service rules is to root out politics, discrimination and nepotism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Now, that was Frank Ricci, the firefighter who successfully sued the city of New Haven for racial discrimination, testifying before the Senate Judicial Committee. That was early today. Judge Sonia Sotomayor dismissed Ricci's case out of hand while serving on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, the Supreme Court overturned that decision 5-4, but all nine justices agreed that the case should have been handled differently.
Now, Frank Ricci and fellow New Haven firefighter, Matthew Marcarelli, join me now.
Guys, welcome back and let me ask one question. I'll start at the end and work my way backwards. And Frank, I'll start with you. Do you want Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court?
RICCI: Sean, as I said today, that's really beyond my legal expertise. So, my experience with her was only that much of a paragraph. We didn't even get a legal opinion from her, so the only thing I knew was that much, and really the sad thing was that she brought up my dyslexia, and it kind of took on a life of its own and made the case about Frank Ricci when really it was about Matt Marcarelli, Chris Parker and 20 other New Haven firefighters that took this case forward, it was all 20 of us standing together bringing this to the forefront.
HANNITY: Yeah, well, look, there's a lot that you testified to today, and one of the things you said, that you had studied harder than you ever had, you made flash cards, you were reading, you were listening to prepared tapes, you were a virtual absentee father in the process, and you also talked about how important this test was in terms of getting the best person for the job in that position. So, in many ways Sonia Sotomayor denied you the promotion that you worked hard to achieve, so she didn't really provide you equal justice under the law, did she?
RICCI: Well, I think the panel denied us equal justice under the law, but thank God we live in America, and the process worked. The press actually brought it to the attention of a prominent judge who took issue with it and saw what was happening to us was wrong, and the process continued, and we went to the United States Supreme Court, and we were successful. And my grandmother said in America you don't always get what you deserve, sometimes you get better.
HANNITY: All right, but Matthew, you got what you want in the end result, but I guess we could all say without the help of Sonia Sotomayor.
MATTHEW MARCARELLI, NEW HAVEN, CONN. FIREFIGHTER: Well, I think this way we have to look at it is that ultimately whether we got to the Supreme Court, we got a fair hearing, and just as she's getting a fair hearing over this past week, that's what we hope to achieve. And that's what we're really happy about. It showed that our hard work paid off and ultimately the system of checks and balances that's in place worked for us in our particular case.
HANNITY: Frank, you said the more attention that your case got the more people tried to distort it. Can you explain that?
RICCI: Well, there was a lot of things, as I'm sure everybody knows, I was attacked by the left bloggers, they attacked my resume, they attacked my credibility which was very insulting, but also the city put forth this argument that no minorities would get promoted, and that was just — it was a lie. I mean, if the city took no action you're looking at three qualified African-Americans promoted to lieutenant and two qualified Hispanics to captain, one happens to be my supervisor, Louis Rivera, that I work for. I mean, everybody worked hard. It wasn't just the 20 of us. Everybody who took that test applied themselves, worked hard, and you know, the rules of the game were set, and we earned our promotions.
HANNITY: In many ways, though, Frank, you became the latest version of Joe the plumber. I saw — I saw — there was an orchestrated, well-organized...
MARCARELLI: I've seen frank do plumbing, and it's not too good.
HANNITY: Well, maybe we could say we have Joe the plumber, we have Frank the firefighter, here. But frank, it was a well-orchestrated, well- organized campaign to smear you. What was that like?
RICCI: It was very disheartening. I mean, we all knew in our heart that it was lies, and so, and it was so nice and it was phenomenal to have counsel, as well as the 20 firefighters. They came down to Washington, D.C. to stand behind us today, and the outpouring of firefighters from all over the country: Camden, New Jersey, Los Angeles, I mean, just all over to support us. It's just been unbelievable.
HANNITY: I'm listening to both of you guys, and I think you're being very gracious, and it seems to me that you don't want to get too involved in the political process. And I kind of understand that. Matthew, I don't know if I would be as gracious as you are. In other words, because Sonia Sotomayor, this is a lifetime appointment, she's going to impact issues of the rights of other individuals if she gets on the court, and clearly she probably would handle your case or a similar case the same way. Does that bother you in that sense that if she gets this position, and it appears she will, that she could do this again to somebody else?
MARCARELLI: I would hope not; however, you know, if you listen to her testimony, as we did, throughout the two days that we were there, she certainly is giving the impression that she intends not to do that, so that's all we can really hope for.
HANNITY: Yeah, listen, I know you're really — you guys — if I'm in a fire or if I need rescue, I want both of you guys there, I can tell you're really good at your job, I think I'm pretty good at analyzing the political world, and I now refer to her as the judge that used to be known as Sonia Sotomayor, because I see an entirely different individual, you know, testifying that wants a job on the Supreme Court versus the person that I once saw in some of the comments she made, and some of the positions she held. Does that concern you, Frank, at all?
RICCI: Sean, to be honest, our family sacrificed so much in even coming down to Washington this week, you know, in preparing for testimony, I really didn't get to see a lot of the testimony. I'm looking forward — my son won the Soapbox Derbies in the national championships, we're going to Ohio next week and I'm looking forward to focusing on him for a week instead of me.
HANNITY: Well listen, in all honesty, you know what? You guys work really, really hard. I mean, to me, this is the American dream. You studied, you prepared, you worked really hard, you were denied your opportunity, and yet in the end you won out because you persevered. I have great admiration not only for what you do as firefighters, but for your battle in what I think is a really important issue that we ought not be a country that discriminates in any way, shape, matter, or form, so I congratulate you both, I think you're both extremely gracious, and I appreciate you being here.
MARCARELLI: Thanks, Sean. We hope to see you at that swearing in.
RICCI: Sean, you're a great American.
HANNITY: You guys are great Americans. Thank you for being with us.
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