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Post date: January 21 2015

Statement By A.G. Schneiderman Urging U.S. Supreme Court To Uphold Disparate Impact Claims Under Federal Fair Housing Act

NEW YORK – With arguments set to begin today in the matter of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today released the following statement urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the longstanding interpretation of the federal Fair Housing Act that allows challenges to practices that have a “disparate impact” on protected groups, such as racial minorities. Last year, the Attorney General led a coalition of 16 other states in filing a brief defending this importance provision of the Fair Housing Act in rooting out entrenched discrimination.

“The Fair Housing Act stands as one of our most important federal civil rights laws. No law has done more to eradicate unlawful residential segregation and promote equal access to housing opportunities. However, despite the progress we have made in working toward these goals, we continue to see significant racial segregation and discrimination in housing today. I urge the Court to reject this challenge and preserve a law that remains necessary to achieve the goals of integration and equal opportunity for all.”

Attorney General Schneiderman and former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley submitted an amicus brief in the case of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. The amicus brief filed by New York and Massachusetts was joined by 15 other states, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. In total, these 17 states represent 42% of the U.S. population.

The amicus brief argues that “[r]ecognition of disparate impact claims under the FHA [Fair Housing Act] not only is consistent with the text and structure of the statute, it is necessary to achieve the broad remedial goals of the statute.” The brief explains: “The disparate impact model originated as a judicial response to the practical challenges of detecting and proving bias in cases of hidden and covert discrimination, and it continues to serve this essential function today.” The brief further explains that “[w]ithout disparate impact claims, States and others will be left with fewer critical tools for combating the kinds of systemic discrimination that the FHA was intended to address.” The federal courts of appeals have unanimously upheld the availability of disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act, and such claims often succeed in rooting out entrenched discrimination.

The Attorney General’s brief is available here.

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

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