The Supreme Court named on Thursday some of the cases it will take up starting later this month as the new term begins, and one of those cases could end up meaning the effective end of the Fair Housing Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether people suing for housing discrimination must prove they were victims of intentional bias, in a case that may give long-sought protection to the lending industry.
The justices today said they will hear an appeal from Texas officials sued under the U.S. Fair Housing Act over tax credits for low-income building projects. The question is whether people can sue by showing a practice had a “disparate impact” on racial minorities, or whether they must meet a higher standard by proving intentional bias.
The court will consider jettisoning the disparate-impact theory, which has helped the Obama administration get hundreds of millions of dollars in fair-lending settlements with Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and other financial institutions. The court has twice before granted review on the issue, only to have settlements scuttle the case.
“The far-reaching scope of disparate-impact liability makes this a question of exceptional importance,” Texas officials led by Attorney General Greg Abbottargued in their appeal.
So without the disparate impact theory, Texas will be able to get away with this:
Texas is fighting a lawsuit by the Inclusive Communities Project, a Dallas-based group that advocates for integrated housing. The organization accuses Texas of allocating a disproportionate number of federal low-income housing tax credits to minority neighborhoods.
“That practice makes dwellings unavailable in particular areas, thereby perpetuating residential segregation in the Dallas area,” the group said in court papers.
But oh well, banks need protection from those people. Oh, and just in case you think this won't affect you as a minority because you don't live in low-income housing:
The case could also affect the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the law used by the administration against Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has relied on the disparate-impact doctrine in enforcing that law, which contains language similar to that in the Fair Housing Act.
So without disparate impact, punishment for lenders who discriminate en masse against minorities by denying them credit goes away too.
Because you know racism is over. Chief Justice Roberts said so. And I fully expect him to be joined by four other votes too.