For Immediate Release - June 25, 2015

AG Healey Statement on U.S. Supreme Court's Decision Recognizing Disparate Impact Claims Under the Fair Housing Act

Supreme Court Opinion References AG Healey’s Amicus Brief in Support of FHA Claims

BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey today issued this statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Texas Dep’t of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., that recognizes disparate impact claims under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Today’s ruling supports the AG’s argument that individuals and businesses involved in the renting or selling of homes and other real-estate transactions must be held accountable for the discriminatory effects of their policies and practices.

The Supreme Court decision also directly quotes an amicus brief previously filed by the AG’s Office noting that residents and policy­makers have come to rely on the availability of disparate impact claims: "Without disparate impact claims, States and others will be left with fewer crucial tools to combat the kinds of systemic discrimination that the FHA was in­tended to address”.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a significant civil rights victory. Disparate impact claims are essential to combatting discrimination, and I am glad that the Court put to rest any doubt about whether those claims are valid under the Fair Housing Act. The Act was designed to eliminate discrimination and segregation in the housing market – both of which unfortunately persist today. Inequality in housing choice perpetuates unequal educational opportunities, employment prospects, neighborhood amenities and infrastructure, and health outcomes, among many other disparities. My office is fully committed to the goals set forth in the Fair Housing Act, and we will continue to use all tools available to us, including disparate impact claims, to fight for greater opportunities for all.”

 

BACKGROUND:

In December 2014, the Attorney General’s Office filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to recognize disparate impact claims under the FHA. The brief, which was prepared in collaboration with the New York Attorney General’s Office, was joined by total of 15 other states including, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

In January 2012 and October 2013, respectively, the AG’s Office filed similar briefs with the U.S Supreme Court in the cases of Magner v. Gallagher and Township of Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc., both of which were ultimately dismissed before being heard. 

The federal Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968, and amended in 1988.  It protects individuals from discrimination in the sale and rental of housing, as well as other housing-related transactions, on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, disability, religion, and familial status.  The AG’s Office vigorously prosecutes violations of the FHA as well as the state’s housing discrimination law.   

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