THE FAIR HOUSING ACT OF 1968

The Supreme Court will hear a case this term that conservatives have eagerly been anticipating. Conservatives have for years sought to limit the scope of the Fair Housing Act, claiming that the law over reaches and unfairly treats banks and lending institutions. They only want the standard of intentional discrimination to be used.

Banks and lending institutions seek to reduce the financial impact of lawsuits based upon the disparate impact of a policy proved by statistical data. They seek to limit a court’s decision on whether or not discrimination, can be proven by intent, motive or purpose.

Unless someone makes a mistake and leaves a trail of intent or motive in denying housing, it will be hard to prove discrimination if the court agrees with the challenge to the Fair Housing Act. Intent is always difficult to prove.

If the court decides against disparate statistical data from being used as a standard, you can say goodbye to section 8 housing. The practice of giving vouchers will end for the poor and minorities. Affordable housing will no longer be available.

Banks and lending institutions will be free to choose only the projects that promise to give them the most profit. There is far less financial incentive for banks to lend if their money can be used somewhere else other than money for affordable housing in poor and blighted neighborhoods. After all, where would the profit be in that?

This impending case promises to be another bad year for minorities in America. First, the Voting Rights Bill was gutted. Congress had given every indication that it would follow Supreme Court John Roberts suggestion to update the Law based upon new, more recent data, in the states that had shown a historic pattern of discrimination.

Now another important leg of protection against de facto segregation will likely be taken away by the Roberts court. The court is such a business friendly court, I wonder how long it will be before the old saw of property rights being more important than equal rights comes before the court. You hear rumblings over the years that an owner of property should have the right to deny housing to anyone because it is his property.  What will be next, will this court bring back the standard of separate but equal? A majority of this court may believe that the Constitution was color blind but we know different. Let’s not go backwards in race relations but rather further codify and reaffirm the protections against racism that the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act gave us. Let us also not give hope to those who may wish to deny loans to minorities just because intent is hard to prove. Math does not lie, but people do. Let us reaffirm the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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