TX Housing Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project
Full name: Texas Department Of Housing and Community Affairs et al. v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., et al.
Click here to read the decision
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Related BillsCivil Rights Act of 1968
What was this case about?
The Supreme Court ruled that housing discrimination is illegal even if it is not intentional.
How did this case get to the Supreme Court?
Developers of low-income housing can receive tax credits. They're paid for by the federal government, but administered by each state.
The agency that does this in Texas had been granting credits to developments in minority neighborhoods while denying them in areas that were mostly white.
The Inclusive Communities Project, which assists low-income families obtain affordable housing, sued. The nonprofit organization claimed that this had the disparate impact of perpetuating segregation - a violation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
The result of policies matters more than the intent
The Fair Housing Act states that it is unlawful...
To refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.
In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that previous court decisions and subsequent amendments to the law make it clear the Fair Housing Act refers to the effect of a policy as well as the intent...
Congress' use of the phrase "otherwise make unavailable" refers to the consequences of an action rather than the actor's intent.... the word make has many meanings, among them "to cause to exist, appear or occur". This results-oriented language counsels in favor of recognizing disparate-impact liability.
Different environments strongly affect their later lives
The type of neighborhood a child grows up in can have a significant impact on their future, including their earning potential. This Harvard University Study highlights some of the factors and differences.
In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out that imbalances don't necessarily disfavor minorities.
At various times in history, racial or ethnic minorities have owned or directed more than half of whole industries in particular nations. These minorities have included the Chinese in Malaysia, the Lebanese in West Africa, Greeks in the Ottoman Empire, Britons in Argentina, Belgians in Russia, Jews in Poland, and Spaniards in Chile - among many others. In the seventeenth century Ottoman Empire, this phenomenon was seen in the palace itself, where the medical staff consisted of 41 Jews and 21 Muslims.
And in our own country, for roughly a quarter-century now, over 70 percent of National Basketball Association players have been black.
What changes as a result of this decision?
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs will need to change the criteria it uses in selecting low-income housing projects to receive tax credits.
The decision also strengthens the Fair Housing Act, as explicit discrimination fades while policies still result in segregation.
For more information...
For more details about the Harvard studies and the effect of neighborhoods and outcomes, see the Equality of Opportunity Project.