Civil Rights Advocates Closely Watching Outcome of Supreme Court Decision

June 25th, 2015

Some civil rights advocates believe the United States largely remains a segregated nation much as it was decades ago. The view is held despite any progress that has occurred over the past two generations. From this vantage point, the 1968 Fair Housing Act is viewed as a vital piece of legislation to prevent discrimination against people seeking to take up dwelling. Prior to the law being enacted, minorities were often denied renting in upscale areas because of stereotypes about minorities reducing property values and brining crime into neighborhoods.

Since passage of the Fair Housing Act, people have been protected against blatant acts of discrimination in the selection of housing. However, it is possible for developers and real estate investors to be sued for discrimination when no blatant act has occurred stated Paul Matheison. This is because people or groups can make the claim that if certain seemingly unrelated aspects of the housing project are correlated with race, a case of soft or inadvertent discrimination has occurred. This is known as “disparate impact”.

Now, the Supreme Court will soon render a decision in the case known as Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. In this case, the high court will decide if the 1968 Fair Housing Act intended to cover “disparate impact” or if it only barred blatant acts of discrimination. Some civil rights groups are concerned that if the court prohibits “disparate impact”, the Fair Housing Act will be severely weakened. For decades, “disparate impact” has been recognized as a legitimate type of discrimination.

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