- In a new Cato podcast, I talk with Caleb Brown about the Court’s pending case on “disparate impact” liability in housing and finance, Texas Dept. of Housing vs. The Inclusive Communities Project [earlier, more]
- Amicus briefs urge Court to recognize regulatory taking in raisin marketing order requisition case Horne v. Department of Agriculture [Trevor Burrus, Ilya Somin, earlier]
- Organized campaign to disrupt Supreme Court sittings is sure to raise the concern of groups devoted to backing judicial independence. Right? [Orin Kerr, Legal Times, earlier on selective vision of some of the latter groups here, here, etc.]
- Under the surface, routine decision in Perez indicates Justices’ changing attitudes toward Chevron, Auer, and agency deference in administrative law [Sasha Volokh]
- Vong v. Aune, arising from Arizona cosmetology board ban on Asian “fish pedicure” techniques, could enable Court to examine economic rationality of regulation [Ilya Shapiro]
- “Justices stick to middle of the road in Omnicare securities opinion” [Alison Frankel/Reuters, Bainbridge]
- Sequel to Harris v. Quinn? In Center for Individual Rights’s Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case Court could revisit Abood question of public sector agency shop [On Labor, Larry Sand/City Journal]
Daniel Fisher recounts oral argument in the case of Texas Dept. of Housing vs. The Inclusive Communities Project. Roger Clegg (more) and Terry Eastland comment on a “to exclude one is implicitly to include all others” argument made by some on the liberal side.
Interviewed at HousingWire, Mike Skojec of Ballard Spahr predicts major consequences from the case (including, paradoxically or otherwise, higher costs for the building of “affordable” housing should the liberal side win) and has this to say about how disparate-impact advocates have overplayed their hand:
In some disparate impact cases, the theory has worked effectively to lessen racial discrimination and the perpetuation of illegal segregation. However, the substantial increase in the use of the theory by advocacy groups and HUD for many kinds of claims for which it should not be used, such as how risk is evaluated in selling property insurance or how management companies screen the risk of criminal conduct and other bad acts by possible tenants, has caused the theory to be attacked and probably struck down.
Why “probably” struck down? Well, there are many signals of the Court’s intention:
The Court has wanted to examine this issue, as evidenced by accepting cert three times. It has repeatedly said that it only wanted to look at whether disparate impact applies under the Fair Housing Act and not what standard would apply if it does exist, even though there are many circuit court decisions using disparate impact, and they have used conflicting standards. Typically, the Court would want to decide an issue that is in conflict between the circuits, especially here, where HUD has already tried to resolve the conflicts with a rule. The Court’s refusal to consider a standard suggests that the majority of the justices already know disparate impact will no longer apply under the Fair Housing Act.
- Perez v. Mortgage Bankers: can agency escape notice-and-comment requirements for new rulemaking by couching edict as other than a rule? [The Hill]
- Contrary to imaginings in some quarters, anti-business side doesn’t lack for access to front-rank Supreme Court advocates [Tom Goldstein, SCOTUSBlog]
- Speaking of which, Alison Frankel’s profile of Prof. Samuel Issacharoff’s work on behalf of class actions illuminates little-seen world of cert practice [Reuters]
- After two near misses, it’s time for Justices to turn thumbs down on housing disparate impact theory [Ilya Shapiro and Gabriel Latner, Cato]
- Integrity Staffing v. Busk: Court unanimously rules Fair Labor Standards Act does not require overtime pay for security screening after work [SCOTUSBlog, Michael Fox, On Labor, Daniel Fisher, Dan Schwartz]
- “Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution” [Cato panel discussion with Roger Pilon, Ilya Shapiro, Randy Barnett, David Gans]
- Some local governments presume to license local tour guides, which amounts to requiring a license to speak [Shapiro and Latner, Cato]
- More: 1997 flap over sculpture of Muhammad in Supreme Court building mostly subsided after Islamic scholar interpreted it as gesture of goodwill [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog]
I was a guest on Ray Dunaway’s program on Hartford-based WTIC discussing (audio) the new Minneapolis plan for race-conscious school discipline, which is likely to be replicated around the country as more cities and states fall into line with the new Department of Justice policy. Earlier here, and a somewhat different view from Coyote, who writes: “By the way, in today’s legal environment, any private employer who says they don’t put extra scrutiny on terminations of folks in protected classes, or don’t increase the warnings and documentation required internally before firing someone in a protected class, is probably a liar.”
The Obama Administration has repeatedly dodged cases in fear of judicial review of its controversial application of the disparate impact theory to mortgage lending and other aspects of the housing market, but its position has now met with a stiff rebuke from district court judge Richard Leon [Insurance Journal]:
“This is yet another example of an administrative agency trying desperately to write into law that which Congress never intended to sanction,” Leon wrote.
He called the rule “nothing less than an artful misinterpretation of Congress’s intent that is, frankly, too clever by half.”
Disparate impact by way of location? “Four environmental groups announced a federal complaint Thursday alleging that North Carolina’s hog farms discriminate against ethnic minorities because the stench and pollution from the swine operations disproportionately affect African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans who live nearby.” [Raleigh News & Observer]
- In banking and FCPA cases, targets of DOJ prosecution are disproportionately firms domiciled abroad, and other countries do notice that [Jesse Eisinger, NYT “DealBook”]
- “Los Angeles’ Confused Suit against Mortgage Lenders” [Mark Calabria, Cato] Providence also using disparate impact suits in hopes of making banks pay for its housing failures [Funnell]
- Podcast discussion on Operation Chokepoint with Charles J. Cooper, Iain Murray, and Todd J. Zywicki [Federalist Society, earlier]
- New round of suits against banks based on ATMs’ imperfect wheelchair accessibility [ABA Journal, earlier here]
- Walgreen’s could save billions in taxes if it moved to Switzerland from U.S. Whose fault if anyone’s is that? [Tax Foundation]
- “Left unmentioned: how fed regulation and trial lawyers deter banks from protecting themselves with overdraft fees.” [@tedfrank on NYT report about banks’ use of databases to turn down business from persons with records of overdrawing accounts, a practice that now itself is being targeted for regulation]
- Scheme to seize mortgages through eminent domain stalling as cities decline to come on board [Kevin Funnell]
- Federal judge in Buffalo “dismisses EEOC’s largest pending pattern or practice lawsuit for failure to investigate” [Gerald Maatman, Jr. and Jennifer Riley, Seyfarth Shaw] U.S. magistrate judge in North Carolina orders sanctions against agency in lawsuit against law firm Womble Carlyle [Mary Kissel, WSJ]
- Commission’s campaign against employer use of criminal background checks meets resistance from nine state attorneys general [Penelope Phillips, Minnesota Employment Law Report] Federal judge in Maryland dismisses EEOC criminal-and-credit-background-check case against Freeman Companies using words like “laughable,” “unreliable,” “mind-boggling” [Nick Fishman, Employee Screen; Eric B. Meyer]
- Is regular attendance an essential job function for ADA purposes? Commission takes a hard line against employers who insist that showing up regularly is essential to a job without building a case individualized to the particular dispute [Jon Hyman, Ohio Employer’s Law Blog]
- Missed this one in October: Cato files amicus brief in lower-court case of EEOC v. Kaplan, on disparate impacts of credit checks in hiring [Ilya Shapiro]
- More epic losses by agency last year (earlier posts on that here and here) include Evans Fruit case [AP/Seattle Times] Defendants disadvantaged by agency’s prejudicial delay [Molly DiBianca on PBM Graphics and Propak Logistics cases; Anastasia Killian, WLF] Federal judge in Iowa orders agency to pay $4.7 million in attorneys fees to defendant trucking company CRST [Gerald Maatman Jr. and Howard Wexler, Seyfarth Shaw, ABA Journal, Wall Street Journal]
- “Does the EEOC Try To Intimidate Employers?” Merrily Archer v. Robert Young [Richard Cohen, Fox Rothschild; more from Merrily Archer on agency incentives; her major 2012 victory in the Picture People case, and a dissent]
- In commission’s view, two “incidents which ended in ambulance trips to the hospital” not enough to classify employee as safety risk absent individualized ADA determination [Joe Lustig]
My colleague Andrew Coulson:
Over the past several years, University of Rochester professor Joshua Kinsler has explored this question [of racial disparity in school discipline] using uniquely rich datasets. What he finds is that the variation in punishment between the races is largely explained by variation in discipline policies at the school level: black students are more likely to attend very strict schools. …
in order to achieve the administration’s goal of eliminating the racial discipline gap, schools that currently have many disruptive students and strict discipline policies will have to relax those policies.
Which brings us to Kinsler’s most important discovery: easing discipline policies in such schools causes overall student achievement to fall.