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Post date: October 28 2013

New York Joins Multi-state Brief Urging Supreme Court To Reject Challenge To Fair Housing Act

Fair Housing Act Is A Key Tool In Combating Ongoing Housing Discrimination

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman joined Massachusetts and ten other states today in filing a joint brief asking the United States Supreme Court to uphold the existing interpretation of the Fair Housing Act against a challenge to this important civil rights law. The brief, filed by the states in Township of Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc., urges the Supreme Court to recognize that “disparate impact” claims can be made under the Fair Housing Act. “Disparate impact” occurs when a housing practice has a disproportionately harmful effect on minority communities, standing as potential roadblock to ending discrimination and eliminating residential segregation across New York and the nation.

“The Fair Housing Act is one of our nation’s most important tools for combating discrimination and eliminating residential segregation,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The law helps ensure access to fair housing for minority communities across our state and our nation. We urge the Court to reject the current challenge to ensure that the Act continues to prohibit all forms of discriminatory housing practices.”

The availability of a disparate impact cause of action under the Fair Housing Act remains a vital tool to tackling the wide spectrum of problems faced by protected groups under the Fair Housing Act. According to recent census data, housing segregation remains a persistent problem. Today’s brief provides examples of the kind of pervasive housing discrimination that represent the type of long-existing and intractable problems which Congress sought to uproot through the Fair Housing Act.  

Every federal appeals court that has considered the question now before the Supreme Court, as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has agreed with the conclusion presented in the joint states’ brief, that the Fair Housing Act was intended to reach housing discrimination claims, based on a showing of disparate impact to minority groups. 

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on December 4, 2013. The brief, authored by Massachusetts, was also joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.A copy of the brief can be found here.

The Attorney General’s Office is committed to enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and working to combat housing discrimination. To file a complaint, contact the Office at or 212-416-8250.