Housing Discrimination Law
Housing discrimination is knocked out once again! Thursday morning, the Supreme Court agreed that the 1968 law that prevented housing discrimination will stand!
The court held that cover practices have an discriminatory effect even though there was not an intent to discriminate.
This sleeper case involves the Fair Housing Act that makes it illegal to discriminate against people’s dwelling based upon race.
Those in favor of upholding the law say “disparate impact” claims are vital to fight subtle acts of discrimination by some companies, developers and housing authorities.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund said:
“There is a huge divide that exists between us. Our country remains deeply segregated and we need not only provisions of the Fair Housing Act to be intact, but we need aggressive, and affirmative enforcement of the act by the federal government and by state jurisdictions.”
According to Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center, who also serves as a CNN analyst filed a brief in support of the ICP:
“It would be wrong for the Supreme Court to seriously weaken one of our country’s most important civil rights protections when we still don’t live in a country where all Americans have an equal opportunity to seek a home and fair treatment in any neighborhood.”
Those who wanted to strike down the law argue it costs time and money when there are good intentions. The Texas solicitor general argued against the Fair Housing Act, that it:
“…unambiguously precludes (claims of disparate impact). (It) cannot support an additional prohibition on actions that discriminate because of any factor that happens to be correlated with race.”
Michael W. Skojec, with Ballard Spahr attorneys argued that developers could still be breaking the law:
“Housing authorities and developers are not able to make the same kind of decisions to develop affordable housing if they have to consider the effects of where they are developing and how the money is invested in housing.?
Skojec says that whether housing is developed in poor neighborhoods or more affluent neighborhoods, developers could still be subject to claims of disparate impact?(no intent)?based on statistics of how minorities are affected.
“What we are trying to do is get people not to consider race, or think of people in racial terms.?The disparate impact concept encourages and requires people to think about race in every decision.”
In a 5-4 decision Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote about the decision:
“The court acknowledges the Fair Housing Act’s continuing role in moving the nation toward a more integrated society.”
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissenting opinion accusing the majority justices of making:
??a serious mistake (which) will have unfortunate consequences for local government, private enterprise, and those living in poverty.”
Justice Stephen Breyer asked an important question about this discrimination law:
“It’s been the law for 40 years,” he said. “Disaster has not occurred, and why, when something is so well established throughout the United States, should this court come in and change it?”
?Another case of if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.