Supreme Court rules disparate impact claims allowed under FHA
Supreme Court rules disparate impact claims allowed under FHA

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-4 in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project [SCOTUSblog materials] that Texas’s biggest housing subsidy has been reinforcing segregated housing. The project claimed that even if Texas did not treat minority applicants differently, the subsidy program had the effect of disadvantaging them, under a so-called “disparate impact” theory. The question before the court was whether disparate impact claims could be brought under the Fair Housing Act [text]. Writing for the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy found they could:

The Court holds that disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act upon considering its results-oriented language, the Court’s interpretation of similar language in Title VII and the ADEA, Congress’ ratification of disparate-impact claims in 1988 against the backdrop of the unanimous view of nine Courts of Appeals, and the statutory purpose.

The decision affirms an earlier ruling [opinion, PDF] by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website].

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent. Justice Samuel Alito also wrote a dissent joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. The court granted certiorari to the case in October and heard oral arguments [JURIST reports] in January.