The US Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-3 Monday in Bank of America Corp. v. City of Miami [SCOTUSblog materials] that cities can use the Fair Housing Act (FHA) [text] to sue banks for predatory lending practices. At issue were the questions of whether Miami qualified as the kind of party that could bring claims under the FHA and whether the harm the city said it suffered (lost tax revenue) was necessarily tied closely enough to the lending practices for the city to bring the claims. Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said that the city could bring claims under the FHA, but that a lower court had failed to properly assess whether lost tax revenue was linked closely enough to the lending practices to be covered by the act. The case was sent back to a lower court to decide how closely linked the harm and the lending practices must be to be covered by the FHA. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito, arguing that the kind of harm the city claimed was not the kind for which the FHA intended to provide a remedy. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not take part in the decision.
The Supreme Court heard arguments [JURIST report] in the case in November. The district court had dismissed the city’s cases, and the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] reversed [opinion, PDF]. The cases were consolidated for appeal to the Supreme Court into Bank of America Corp. v. City of Miami [transcript, PDF].