Western Center applauds the Inclusive Communities Project and its counsel on securing last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Texas Department of Housing v. The Inclusive Communities Project which preserves the disparate impact doctrine as a tool for combating housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
Western Center, with lead amici counsel the Equal Justice Society, and co-counsel Legal Services of Northern California, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, PC, and Rachel Godsil of Seton Hall Univ. School of Law, submitted a brief on behalf of social scientists from around the country whose research and scholarship focuses on how implicit and unconscious bias can lead to discriminatory outcomes based on race and other protected categories.
The brief asserts that despite the persistence of intentional discrimination and overt expressions of racial hatred, as evidenced horrifically by the recent mass shooting in Charleston, most discrimination today operates on a unconscious or hidden level and that disparate impact is critical to revealing and remedying the effects of such discrimination.
For what appears to be the first time, the Supreme Court acknowledged this phenomenon finding that “[r]ecognition of disparate-impact liability under the FHA also plays a role in uncovering discriminatory intent: It permits plaintiffs to counteract unconscious prejudices and disguised animus that escape easy classification as disparate treatment. In this way disparate-impact liability may prevent segregated housing patterns that might otherwise result from covert and illicit stereotyping.” – Slip op at 21.
Western Center is proud of its contribution to preserving disparate impact as a means by which Californians and people around the country segregated and marginalized by non-intentional housing discrimination can enforce the protections of the Fair Housing Act.