Disparate Impact Doctrine Upheld
President Obama recently said in an interview that racism is no longer “just a matter of overt discrimination.” Today, the United States Supreme Court announced a landmark 5-4 ruling ensuring that we have the tools to fight back against housing discrimination in all its forms.
The decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project is a tremendous step towards upholding principles of equal opportunity. In it, the Court considered whether the State of Texas promoted racial segregation by incentivizing the building of affordable housing in Dallas exclusively in majority-minority neighborhoods through its tax credit program.
This theory of disparate impact is an incredibly essential tool because it is often used to combat discrimination when a seemingly neutral policy has a discriminatory effect. The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) used disparate impact analysis in our successful case against St. Bernard Parish’s ‘blood relative ordinance,’ which prohibited property owners from renting homes to anyone not related to them by blood. Because property owners in St. Bernard Parish were overwhelmingly white, a federal court found that the ordinance had a clear adverse effect on people of color.
Recent events have demonstrated the profound work we as a nation have to do to advance racial justice and we are releived and elated that the Court preserved this essential civil rights protection.
To see the majority opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy, click here.