We are included as parties on an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting the use of a disparate impact standard of proof in a Fair Housing Act (FHA) case.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing the case on the FHA, one of the final cornerstones of civil rights legislation approved by Congress in 1968. This act prohibits all forms of housing discrimination and is essential for not only preventing racial segregation in neighborhoods but also improving access to quality living and resources.
In this particular case, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs allocated housing tax credits in a way that perpetuated concentrated minority neighborhoods. The lower courts decided that this indeed violated the Fair Housing Act. However, the court asserted that while the said practices of this Texas entity had a statistically proven adverse impact on minorities, intentional discrimination could not be proven.
The question before the Supreme Court is whether or not you need intentional discrimination to prove that a particular housing practice violates the Fair Housing Act.
The plaintiffs in this case argue that intentional discrimination is not a sufficient measure of whether a housing practice violates the FHA. Additionally, they contend that using such a measure cannot adequately accomplish the purposes of this important act. Instead, the plaintiffs argue that observing whether or not a housing practice has an adverse effect (known as disparate impact) on a particular group, is the important measure of housing discrimination. The Law Center is one of several organizations, including civil rights and public interest groups, cited on the amicus brief as supporting the use of this disparate impact standard.
Oral arguments for this Supreme Court case were heard on Wednesday, January 22. A decision from the Court is currently being decided.