A federal judge in Washington DC ruled earlier this week that the federal Fair Housing Act does not protect those looking for a new home against racial and other forms of discrimination, ThinkProgress reported.
Judge Richard Leon’s ruling goes against almost every other single federal appeals court, which say that the act prohibits two types of discrimination: disparate treatment, and disparate impact. Disparate treatment “can be proved by showing that a realtor, landlord, or lender engaged in intentional discrimination,” and disparate impact “can be proved when a business’ policy leads to disproportionately adverse outcomes for racial minorities or another protected class of people.”
Of the 12 federal courts that preside over fair housing cases, 11 held the opinion that the act does in fact cover both types of discrimination. The 12th, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, “has not considered whether disparate impact lawsuits are permitted under the federal fair housing law.”
In his scathing opinion, Leon “practically sneers” at the Obama administration for enforcing a regulation inline with the other 11 courts. He actually accuses the Department of Housing and Urban development of “‘calculatingly’ creating this regulation in an attempt to influence a Supreme Court case seeking to undermine disparate impact lawsuits.”
Despite Leon’s opinion being in the minority among federal judges, his ruling could be confirmed by the Supreme Court. “In October, [SCOTUS] agreed to hear a case that would make Judge Leon’s rule the law of the land.”
And given that the court has been ruling more and more conservatively as of late, it’s likely that the court would rule 5-4 in favor of Leon’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act. They ruled it’s okay to discriminate against minorities when it comes to voting, why wouldn’t’ they extend that right to housing, too?