More than one important decision from the Supreme Court today that's worth noting → pic.twitter.com/WPuh8y8cZC— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) June 25, 2015
In a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that disparate-impact claims can be filed under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Under the disparate-impact doctrine, a policy can be considered discriminatory if it has a disproportionately adverse impact against any group of people, based on race, national origin, color, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) was created to eliminate discriminatory housing practices, such as "zoning laws and other housing restrictions that function unfairly to exclude minorities from certain neighborhoods" without sufficient justification.
"Recognition of disparate-impact claims," he added, "is consistent with the FHA's central purpose."
Today's decision strengthens the bipartisan commitment made in 1968 — and again with the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 — to ensuring that Americans are protected from housing discrimination.
Today is another important step in the long march toward fulfilling one of our nation’s founding ideals: equal opportunity for all Americans. The Supreme Court has made it clear that HUD can continue to use this critical tool to eliminate the unfair barriers that have deferred and derailed too many dreams. Working with our partners on the ground, we will continue to do all we can to build a housing market that treats all Americans with basic dignity and respect.
I am pleased that the Supreme Court has affirmed that the Fair Housing Act encompasses disparate impact claims, which are an essential tool for realizing the Act’s promise of fair and open access to housing opportunities for all Americans. While our nation has made tremendous progress since the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, disparate impact claims remain an all-too-necessary mechanism for rooting out discrimination in housing and lending. By recognizing that laws, policies and practices with unjustified discriminatory effects are inconsistent with the Fair Housing Act, today’s decision lends support to hardworking Americans who are attempting to find good housing opportunities for themselves and their families. Bolstered by this important ruling, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act with every tool at its disposal – including challenges based on unfair and unacceptable discriminatory effects.
The Court’s decision affirms that the Fair Housing Act enables Americans to challenge not only laws, policies, and practices that are intentionally discriminatory, but also those that have an unjustified discriminatory effect.
Too many Americans are victims of more subtle forms of discrimination, such as predatory lending, exclusionary zoning, and development policies that limit affordable housing. This decision reflects the reality that discrimination often operates not just out in the open, but in more hidden forms. And, it preserves a longstanding and important method for challenging and eliminating those practices and continuing the work to end discrimination in housing.
Now that the Supreme Court has reaffirmed this vital principle, it’s time to fully implement it throughout the nation. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will work with housing providers as well as cities, towns, and communities around the country to protect housing choice, free from discrimination.