Target: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Goal: Don’t take away lawyers’ right to fight against racist housing companies.
Racism in housing policies still occurs throughout the United States, and the only principle lawyers can use to fight it is on the brink of being ruled out by the Supreme Court. The “disparate impact” principle allows lawyers to challenge housing companies’ behavior based not on the convoluted wording of their regulations, but the impact those regulations have on minority groups. Urge Senior Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia to give minorities the chance to fight against racism in their search for homes.
The Fair Housing Act approved in 1964 allowed action to be taken against what was quite prevalent racial discrimination in housing for the first time. Up until the present day, lawyers, citizens, and federal officials have been using that act to continue the fight, the reason for its continued effectiveness being that it allows for the observation of “disparate impact”. Used to combat unfair employment, bank lending, and housing policies, disparate impact is the only way crooked regulations that look innocent in print can be challenged because of their proven adverse impacts on minorities.
However, the majority conservative Supreme Court is poised to review an important case that could abolish use of the disparate impact principle forever. The case in question originated in New Jersey’s township of Mount Holly. The township had created a plan to revitalize an area largely populated by low- and moderate-income minority residents. Standing houses would all be demolished, with new and more expensive homes being built in their place. The area’s residents objected, explaining that they would not be able to afford living there or anywhere else in town if the plan was undertaken. They sued to prevent redevelopment – citing violation of the Fair Housing Act because of the “disparate impact” on minorities the plan presented.
This case and many more like it will never appear in court again if the disparate impact principle is overturned. In an effort to dissuade the Supreme Court from making what could be a crippling blow to housing equality, the Obama administration – with aid of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – is preparing to release a long-stalled federal rule that would protect disparate impact in this arena forever. The rule will be released some time in February, 2013, but may be too late to influence the Supreme Court’s decision.
In order to allow any leverage at all against racism in housing policies, disparate impact must be protected. Civil rights supporters, activists, and members of the HUD are all very nervous about what the conservative Supreme Court will decide. Urge Antonin Scalia to support fair housing practices and observe the HUD’s rule protecting disparate impact in reviewing the case that could demolish them both.
Dear Senior Associate Justice Scalia,
As you know, the pending review of Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. represents an important issue in fair housing policy. The preservation of the “disparate impact” principle hangs in the balance of this proceeding. As an instrumental tool in the achievement of equality in housing and an important check to the power of landlords and housing agencies in the United States, the observance of “disparate impact” in the Fair Housing Act must be upheld.
In the opening passages of the Declaration of Independence, it is stated that “all men are created equal,” and that they maintain the unalienable rights to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is the belief of HUD’s chief of enforcement and countless American citizens that the “disparate impact” principle is necessary to uphold those unalienable rights as they pertain to the acquisition of a home.
As Senior Associate Justice, it is your responsibility to provide justice and protect the rights of all American citizens. I urge you to observe these responsibilities in the review of Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. by upholding use of the “disparate impact” principle.
[Your Name Here]