Federal Judge Dismisses Texas Housing Discrimination Lawsuit After Supreme Court Decision
Happening now, happened today! We will be following what this victory means, specifically for Texas and the broader impact it will have on HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule passed last year and being implemented as a result of this Supreme Court decision. Two important points related to this decision:
- Proving that Texas is liable for reinforcing segregated housing means the state must have discriminated using a “specific policy,” and ICP could not prove that such a policy exists, Fitzwater wrote in his opinion. He also wrote that Texas’ housing agency may not be the only one responsible for the fact that low-income housing has been approved mostly in minority areas.
- Justice Kennedy said [about the Disparate Impact ruling] there were safeguards against overuse of disparate impact suits. First, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s policies caused the disparity, not merely that one exists. A defendant can rebut the claim by showing the policy is justified by “substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interests.” The burden then shifts to the plaintiff to show that those goals could be met by a different approach with a less discriminatory effect.
AUSTIN, Texas—A lower federal judge has dismissed a Texas housing discrimination lawsuit that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to go forward last year in a decision previously cheered by civil-rights groups.
U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater on Friday tossed a 2008 lawsuit by the Dallas-based Inclusive Communities Project. The group claimed the Texas housing agency discriminated by distributing federal tax-credit subsidies almost entirely to buildings going up in poor, black neighborhoods, thereby solidifying residential segregation.
State Attorney General Ken Paxton called Judge Fitzwater’s decision a victory for Texas.
In 2015, the Supreme Court let the case return to district court. Supporters were more excited about the legal precedent that ruling set than the case itself.
In it, the Supreme Court found that federal housing laws prohibit seemingly neutral practices that harm minorities, even without proof of intentional discrimination.
That upheld a key tool long used by advocates to challenge housing discrimination, which remains even with the Texas case itself dismissed.
—Copyright 2016 Associated Press