Showdown over Landmark Housing Law Looms at U.S. Supreme Court

Greg Stohr, Bloomberg, September 25, 2014

Over the past four decades, U.S. courts have ruled that plaintiffs making discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act don’t have to prove intentional bias.

Civil rights advocates simply have to show that lenders, insurers, developers or government agencies acted in ways that had a “disparate,” or unequal, impact on minority groups.

Now, the Supreme Court is weighing whether to hear an appeal from Texas officials who argue that intent to discriminate must be proven and that the “disparate impact” standard is too loose an interpretation of the landmark 1968 law that prohibited discrimination in housing.

Advocates on both sides say the court’s record under Chief Justice John Roberts, who has engineered a rollback of decades-old protections for racial minorities, suggests the majority is poised to wipe out the standard, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Sept. 29-Oct. 5 issue.


Texas is fighting a lawsuit filed by a group that advocates for affordable housing and integration.

Using the disparate impact standard, the Inclusive Communities Project says the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs pushed black residents eligible for housing assistance into poor Dallas neighborhoods. They did that by allocating a disproportionately high number of low-income tax credits to properties in those areas rather than to housing in wealthier, and typically whiter, neighborhoods, the group says.

Broad implications

Texas, which says the program wasn’t intended to be biased, appealed to the Supreme Court after lower courts let the Inclusive Communities Project make a disparate impact argument in the case.

A ruling in Texas’s favor could wipe out disparate impact arguments in cases involving other federal statutes.


“There’s no doubt that the people on the other side of the aisle do not want the Supreme Court to decide this issue,” says Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative research group.


The Department of Justice has settled a number of suits that relied on the disparate impact standard. In 2011, Bank of America agreed to pay $335 million to settle U.S. government claims that Countrywide Financial, which the bank acquired in 2008, had discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers.

The next year, Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) reached a $125 million settlement resolving allegations that it steered minority borrowers into expensive subprime loans.

The Texas appeal is being pressed by Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican running for governor. His website says he’s a “conservative to the core” who has filed 30 lawsuits against the Obama administration.


Business groups led by the American Bankers Association are backing the state’s bid for Supreme Court review, calling the issue one of “vital importance to the residential mortgage industry.”

Those groups say lenders are caught in a vise: Under new federal lending rules, they must look at borrowers’ income, assets, debt burden and credit history, while the disparate impact standard means they also have to avoid turning away too many minority applicants.



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  • If SCOTUS rules the wrong way, then it could have a serious and disastrous domino effect. Murder being a crime has a disparate impact on black men.

    • phorning

      If this goes the wrong way, the rent seeking will never stop. Any company involved in real estate can expect to regularly pay settlements in perpetuity. Housing costs for everyone else will increase substantially.

      • Mary

        Yes, and more and more neighborhoods will be wrecked in myriad ways.

      • 1stworlder

        We really need to end this “Where there be crack smoke, it be whiteys fault” false logic. Leftists even think blacks are too stupid to bring drugs into the cities without the US military delivering it to them.

    • Adolf Verloc

      And if they rule the right way, it would throw quite a monkey wrench into the works of the civil rights industry.

      One other reform is needed. Abolish Section 8 and go back to building grim, institutional housing projects in godawful areas for those who can’t or won’t take care of themselves. As a very observant commenter said here a while back, Section 8 was supposed to detoxify the underclass by spreading them out over a wide area. Instead it has caused them to infect previously decent neighborhoods.

      • John R

        Thank you. There was never anything wrong with public housing. Hey, some people can’t afford decent housing. So, give them public housing. At least they get four walls and a roof. What more do they want at taxpayer expense? People who live in “better” neighborhoods live there because they earned that privilege. It is not a right. Of course there is crime in public housing. But that is because of the kind of people that live there, not because of the housing itself.

        • Usually Much Calmer

          In my town, public housing proliferated after WWII because the influx of
          returning GIs and their families left us with a severe housing
          shortage. There was no stigma to living in public housing in the 1940’s.
          (It was also segregated, I might add.)

        • GeneticsareDestiny

          I agree, if we have to give free housing to low-income people, we ought to group them all together in the same area so they don’t ruin nicer neighborhoods and drive down property values for middle class people.

          I actually lived in public housing for many years as a child (I was raised by a poor single mother). It wasn’t so bad. The worst part was our neighbors, who were loud and unruly. But we had a roof over our heads, a kitchen to cook in, bedrooms to sleep in, and a bathroom. It was perfectly adequate and there was really nothing wrong with it.

        • Ed

          Exactly better to concentrate the filth in one easily avoidable area as oppose to diffuse it to all areas.

          I’m confident the Riberts court will rule the right way.

      • BTW, your prediction about Muslim beheadings in the USA turned out to be true, spot on.

        • 1stworlder

          Where have you been the boston marathon muslims beheaded 3 guys that lived next to them years before but no one noticed because they didn’t think beheading= muzzie. The jersey jihadist caught this summer they tried to paint the innocent victims as crooks beheaded by crooks.

      • Shadow

        …”One other reform is needed.Abolish Section 8…”

        I think another good idea would be to find a way to overturn the legal ruling banning “Restrictive Covenants” in the housing market,an idea that Paul Kersey frequently champions on his blog SBPDL.I’m not exactly sure how to get the legal ball rolling on such an endeavor,but it is another worthwhile reform to pursue.

      • E_Pluribus_Pluribus

        There is a powerful documentary on the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St. Louis. Wikipedia:

        “Pruitt–Igoe was a large urban housing project first occupied in 1954[2] in theU.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri. Living conditions in Pruitt–Igoe began to decline soon after its completion in 1956.[3] By the late 1960s, the complex had become internationally infamous for its poverty, crime, and segregation. Its 33 buildings were demolished with explosives in the mid-1970s,[4] and the project has become an icon of urban renewal and public-policy planning failure.”
        Netflix is the only place I’ve been able to find it. It’s not just a simple case of blacks-move-in-disaster-follows. It is that. But it’s much more. The federal government set about destroying the black family by replacing the black father with the welfare system. They actually sent officials around to make sure there were no males in homes receiving assistance. Hence, fatherless boys, drugs, violence, squalor.

        • Usually Much Calmer

          Pruitt-Igoe (et alia, unfortunately) was also a failure of modern, large scale technocratic planning, another God that failed.

          Architecture critic Jane Jacobs railed against the trend: “Le Corbusier’s Utopia was a condition of what he called maximum liberty, by which he seems to have meant not liberty to do anything much, but liberty from ordinary responsibility. . . . Nobody was going to have to struggle with plans of his own”.

          Such projects were star crossed no matter who moved into them or how they were managed.

          • TruthBeTold

            Corbusier. There’s a name I haven’t seen in decades.

            But I disagree.

            Public, or Peoples’, housing works or doesn’t work because of the people who inhabit it.

            People pay thousands of dollars (now millions) for high rise apartments around the globe.

            If White people had inhabited Chicagos’ Cabrine Greene, today it would likely be highly desirable and expansive housing units.

            But because it was occupied by blacks, it quickly fell into disrepair.

          • Usually Much Calmer

            Modernist planning has not been a success, empirically. That does not excuse anything else.

            It’s like lead paint and IQ.

            Lead paint is not the explanation for an IQ gap between races. As you and I know, another explanation is the big player there. But that doesn’t mean lead is not a neurotoxin that will mess up your brain chemistry.

            My town has a ton of exquisite architecture and a ton of hack work. It is easy to tell the difference. Brutal I.M.Pei townhouses in white neighborhoods in Chicago sell from one white family to another at a discount from surrounding housing stock because they are bad craft.

          • TruthBeTold

            The original thread was about disparate impact but has evolved into a discussion of Pruitt-Igoe and public housing.

            This entire PI documentary (which I didn’t know about until now) has got my blood boiling.

            Yes there were social and economic issues surround PI but the fact remains this is purely about race.

            I live in Buffalo, New York, Our heavy industry (largely steel mills) left in the mid 70’s. The white areas went through tough times but came out with their neighborhoods intact. The black neighborhood never recovered and likely never will without massive input of money or gentrification.

            Also, in the 1950’s a housing project was set up on Buffalo’s waterfront. It’s a bland, nondescript project that apparently immediately failed. It should have been a great success because it was waterfront property. It failed so quickly and so completely that the black residents were moved to other locations.

            Then the whites moved in. The SAME location. The SAME drab public buildings. You know what? It thrived for forty years.

            It would have continued to thrive but in the late 90s’ some ‘white’ troublemaker started screaming ‘racism’. The buildings were integrated and the same old problems began. Long time residents have noted and documented the decline.

            In my neighborhood, we had a large apartment building that used to house whites. In the early aughts, do-gooders started buying up properties and bringing in non-whites.

            Within a couple years, the building became a wreck. I used to call it ‘Little Zimbabwe’.

            Windows were broken. Screens were pushed out and flapping in the wind. The key entry knobs were broken off so they could have easy access to the building. Why take your trash to the garbage when you can throw it out the window?

            Planned high rise projects work for white people and Asians too.

            I can take you to the remnants of an old housing project that was surrounded by parkland that whites would have turned into oases. Blacks turned them into unusable, barren wastelands.

            Planned housing projects are not the problem. The problem is the people who inhabit them and no documentary is going to change my mind or the facts.

          • What is second most saddening to me about the whole P-I history is that what the P-Is replaced, if they were left alone and maintained….I try not to think about what might have been.

          • People pay big big big money to live in high rise apartment buildings in certain cities.

            If the P-Is were both 100% white and 100% low income, things would have been way different and way better, even if not perfect.

          • exlib93

            NYC’s public housing system is relatively intact, mostly as a result of a mixture of low-wage working people and welfare. I studied urban planning in college, and find it fascinating, as well as frustrating. People want to live amongst their own kind and class, and to deny this is unnatural.

          • Usually Much Calmer

            Not only do they want to, exlib93, I have come to believe that to a minimal extent, they have to. Diversity is too diverse and even white people who are ensconced in communities of people who fit the same demographic profile are sometimes strangers in a strange land because there is so much heterogeneity even within that community. I could say more but I’ll leave it at that.

          • disqus_4Jy24XjH8I

            you studied urban planning? I am told that Agenda 21 is part of the curriculum, although they don’t call it that.
            That’s where they are trying to shove everyone off their land, and into the cities.

        • Adolf Verloc

          I remember the videos of the demolition of the buildings: mind-boggling. You’re right about the perverse effects of the man-in-the-house rules: having the fathers at home might not have helped, but having them absent DEFINITELY made things worse.

          If we did go back to housing projects, a hard-assed bunch of Housing Authority Police would be needed to keep order and give some breathing space for the non-feral tenants. Sort of like Little Alex’s police ex-friends in “A Clockwork Orange” – drag wannabee gangbangers into the basement for a “malenky bit of summary.”

        • That documentary did everything it could not to blame the black undertow, to try to pawn the blame off on someone or some thing else. That’s why it’s entitled, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, because, you see? It’s only a myth that black people ruined it. Of course, when were we ever allowed to blame the black undertow to begin with? Other than the fact that we can figure things out for ourselves and they know we know, and they know themselves.

          The Pruitt-Igoe projects had a hyphenated name because they were originally planned to be segregated. Pruitt, named after a black WWII fighter pilot, was for blacks, and Igoe, named for a St. Louis Congressman, was for whites. The year that it opened, the state supreme court struck down residential segregation

          • E_Pluribus_Pluribus

            I withdraw my remark that the documentary is unavailable. The production company, First Run Features, sells it for $20. Here’s the synopsis, which backs your statement as the purpose of the film:

            “It began as a housing marvel. Built in 1956, Pruitt-Igoe was heralded as the model public housing project of the future, “the poor man’s penthouse.” Two decades later, it ended in rubble – its razing an iconic event that the architectural theorist Charles Jencks famously called ‘the death of modernism.’ The footage and images of its implosion have helped to perpetuate a myth of failure, a failure that has been used to critique Modernist architecture, attack public assistance programs, and stigmatize public housing residents.

            “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth seeks to set the historical record straight. To examine the interests involved in Pruitt-Igoe’s creation. To re-evaluate the rumors and the stigma. To implode the myth.”
            Of course it had to be sympathetic to blacks. That’s the world we live in, but reality intrudes…

        • TruthBeTold

          I hope you don’t believe anything you saw in that propaganda film.

          I never heard of that film or housing project so I’ve been watching clips and interviews with the director on youtube.

          TOTAL B * L L S H * T.

          Nothing but the same tired old black excuses that it’s everyone elses fault except us black folk.

          For the life of me I don’t understand how losing a job translates into destructive vandalism of the place you live.

      • 1stworlder

        Bath House Barry wants to put HUD paid for blacks in every neighborhood, even in nice houses with pools they cant maintain.

        • Nonhumans

          You say it like they could maintain everything but the pool. Pfffft.

          • 1stworlder

            I am afraid my taxes would pay for it to be fixed.

          • disqus_4Jy24XjH8I

            Ya gotta try….LOL

      • Pilgrim786

        Actually, brother, Sec 8 in a metro is a high-IQ game. There is beautiful Sec. 8 building in Echo Park and it is full of aged Jewesses and young Gentiles,

  • Epiminondas

    Will we ever escape the baleful influence of Lyndon Johnson? His were truly the gifts that go on giving.

    • George Costanza

      or Ted Kennedy!!

    • Reverend Bacon

      Not only that, but he’s being emulated by Barry and his pals. Lyndon said he’d have “those (you-know-who’s) voting Democrat for the next hundred years.” They want to be known as the ones who will have “those (other you-know-who’s) voting Democrat” forever. But, like George Costanza said, Ted Kennedy started that one.

  • Shadow

    Has Rand Paul come out in support of upholding the so-called “disparate impact” standards yet? We all know the patronizing panderer from Kentucky wants to.

    To show how “tolerant” he is,of course.

  • dd121

    What do these leftists have to do to get a sizable number of people to “just say no” to their anti-white rulings?

  • canto28

    This arbitrary, irrational and unfair “disparate impact” nonsense should have been ruled unconstitutional many years ago. It is used to greatly lower testing standards in critical places such as fire and police departments to accommodate blacks evidently unwilling to study as hard as whites. It’s essentially an unconstitutional minority racial preference tool. IMO SCOTUS should finally puts this degrading tool away ASAP.

    • Nonhumans

      Agreed. As libtarded as nearly everything and everyone is nowadays, I doubt seriously that genuine racism is playing a part in much of anything. If the nonhumans cant rise to the challenge these days, it’s clearly and obviously their own genetic deficiencies.

  • Basketeddie

    What would the Supreme court say about “disparate impact” in the NFL or the NBA if white people brought suit?

    • Ethan Allen

      They’d say “Cert Denied”.

  • Tarczan

    “In 2011, Bank of America agreed to pay $335 million to settle U.S. government claims that Countrywide Financial, which the bank acquired in 2008, had discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers.

    The next year, Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) reached a $125 million settlement resolving allegations that it steered minority borrowers into expensive subprime loans.”

    By demanding higher interest rates for buyers with worse credit the banks discriminated.

    • A Freespeechzone

      The interest rate on a loan is a direct result of the RISK; if the borrower has poor credit, in the interest of equality, why should they receive the same interest rate as one with excellent credit?

      That’s not discrimination; just prudent risk management.

  • E_Pluribus_Pluribus

    It’s called the “diversity-validity tradeoff.” One can have diversity or one can have valid lending standards. One cannot have both. Professor Amy L. Wax’s remarks below are in reference to job selection criteria. They apply equally to lending criteria:

    “Because blacks lag significantly behind whites on measures of cognitive ability, most valid job selection criteria will have a substantial adverse impact on this group. The combination of well-documented racial differences in cognitive ability and the consistent link between ability and job performance [default rates] generates a pattern that experts term ‘the validity-diversity tradeoff’: job selection devices [lending standards] that best predict future job performance [default rates] generate the smallest number of minority hires [loans] in a broad range of positions. ”

    SOURCE: “Disparate Impact Realism,” Amy L. Wax, University of Pennsylvania Law School, William & Mary Law Review.

  • MBlanc46

    I do not trust this court on this issue.

    • 1stworlder

      I wonder how the 2 affirmative action judges will vote?

    • TruthBeTold

      I agree.

  • IKUredux

    What no one ever cares about is the disparate impact on the Americans who have created this country. No one cares about the fact that the White (American) taxpayer is on the line for paying for EVERYTHING! We Whites have to have excellent credit to buy ANYTHING! Immigrants to this country get low interest loans to buy anything they want! Have you ever noticed that India dots own most of the motels in this country? How the hell do you think that happened? Yup, they just moved over here from India, and Voila they have enough money to by a Best Western. Uh, huh. All these foreigners who don’t speak English, who just came over here are able to buy Dunkin Donuts franchises(for once, Joe Biden was correct) Seven eleven franchises. Wow. Just Wow. Right off the damn boat! All I am pointing out is this: if Blacks were equal, as we have been told, then why weren’t blacks given the same loans, and terms, that were provided to immigrants?

    • disqus_4Jy24XjH8I

      60% of the hotel/motels are owned by dot-heads.
      What I do is call ahead. I ask if it’s American-owned, they are willing to answer the question, thank God.
      I keep calling til I find one that is American-owned, and I stay at that one.

  • WR_the_realist

    I know that Scalia has a low opinion of the “disparate impact” doctrine. But he’s balanced out by the Wise Latina. So I have no idea how this will go.

  • TruthBeTold

    “Intentional discrimination is often discreet,” says
    Joseph Rich, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil
    Rights Under Law. Requiring clear proof of intent to deny loans,
    sales, and services to minorities would often mean letting
    discrimination go unpunished, he says.

    TRANSLATION: ‘There is no intentional discrimination but will want the power of federal all to punish people who don’t give us what we demand.’

  • IKUredux

    You want to talk about disparate outcome? Let me tell you about disparate outcome. Disparate outcome is now based on intellignt Whites being discriminated against in any kind of I.Q. Test. That’s right! Once we ruled against morons and dummies in hiring. NOW! NOW!. we go out of our way to hire them! Talk about disparate outcome! The entire public is now required to lose time and money, dealing with fing IDIOTS! RETARDS! YAY!!!!! Aren’t we great! We have allowed imbeciles to work at our grocery stores! How compassionate! And, how much freakin’ more does this cost us? NO!!! SERIOUSLY!!! I am tired of paying for dysfunctional blacks. I am tired of paying for retards. What the hell happened to White people who used to have these jobs? No, really, what happened to them? Because up until three years ago, Whites had these jobs. When in the hell did TPTB decide to replace all the Whites with blacks and fing retards? And, these “replacements” SUCK!!! My local grocery store used to employ young men as cart wranglers(I don’t know what they are called) now, my grocery store employs retarded cart wranglers who are supervised by a non retarded person. Seriously? This is progress? How much did my grocery bill go up for this experiment in I don’t know what! How much did the postal rates go up because of the negroes who work there. In fact, how much higher is our tax bill bill because we now have to not only support all the dumb negroes in this country, but, also, all the other dumb ass legal and illegal immigrants who have come into this country! My property taxes keep going up to provide an education to people who are determined to replace me and my children! Let us rethink the whole concept of “democracy”. I am getting outvoted by so called minorities. Trust me, these people are NOT minorities. In fact, these so called “minorities” are the MAJORITY of the world’s population.

  • Usually Much Calmer

    I’ll check it out, thanks, Nelson (Ha! Ha!).
    Smell you later-

  • Pilgrim786

    If they get rid of “disparate impact,” I will go to Loyola for my Baptism and make a barefoot pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

  • Lord Sandwich

    Koya is an old favorite of mine. (Though, like Dr. Strangelove, I disagree with its’ underlying political message.)

  • Robbie Cheney

    The 1968 ‘(un)Fair Housing Act’ was and is a complete disgrace to ‘free association’. Recalling the travesty of ‘blockbusting’ all over most of America in the following years. I lived in a Southern city during the early 80s in a truly desegregated apartment complex that was about 15% Black (reflecting the city’s racial makeup), all Professionals or high end blue collar types and a truly wonderful place to live.

    The city was fighting a federal lawsuit at the time regarding housing Section 8 individuals (mostly Blacks) and eventually lost. The complex became nearly all Black overnight with the worst possible neighbors. We moved a few blocks away to a similar complex owned by a powerful local politican and real estate developer – his complex wasn’t affected by the new ‘ordinances’ and was a great place to live as a result, still with about the same racial makeup as the previous complex had before the federal lawsuit.