Civil and Human Rights Coalition Files Amicus Brief in Fair Housing Case
November 4, 2013 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights filed an amicus brief last week in the Township of Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. case regarding the use of disparate impact theory under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which the Supreme Court will hear on December 4, 2013.
The case centers on the township of Mount Holly, N.J., where plans to demolish all of the existing homes in a predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhood forced residents to challenge a policy that would destroy a once-stable minority community.
This case focuses on whether claims based on discriminatory impact (known as disparate impact), even without intent, are violations of the FHA. Both the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have already determined that disparate impact theory can be used in fair housing cases and that proof of intent is not required to bring a claim under the FHA.
According to The Leadership Conference brief, “For roughly forty years, the availability of disparate impact claims has been integral to the FHA’s goal of achieving equal opportunity in housing for not only African Americans, but all protected classes.”
The brief was filed on behalf of more than 200 national organizations that comprise The Leadership Conference, as well as the National Action Network, The City Project, The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America. The brief is supported by AFSCME, Japanese American Citizens League, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, NAACP, and National Urban League, and was drafted by Professor Michael L. Foreman and his students at the Pennsylvania State University Civil Rights Appellate Clinic. “The lawyers at the clinic were terrific. They were engaged, creative, diligent and tireless in their efforts to put together a quality brief in a very short period of time. We look forward to future collaborations,” said Leadership Conference Senior Policy Counsel Lisa Bornstein, who coordinates the organization's amicus strategy.