HUD to private landlords: from now on, prepare to defend a discrimination suit if you decline to rent to felons. After all, any such rule might have disparate impact on members of protected groups. [NPR] Julia Vitullo-Martin writes: “Amazing, given that government — in the form of public housing — has refused to rent to felons since Clinton administration reforms.”
- “Requiring Employees to Return 100% Healed Costs Trucking Firm $300K in EEOC Suit” [Thompson’s HR Compliance Expert]
- Update: Oregon appeals court upholds $400,000
finejudgment against Portland owner who asked transgender club to stop holding meetings at his nightclub [Oregonian, earlier]
- Fire Department of New York commissioner: yes, we lowered fitness bar so more women could join the force [Matthew Hennessey/City Journal, my take in The Excuse Factory back when]
- From May: “Oversight of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Examining EEOC’s Enforcement and Litigation Programs” [Senate HELP committee via Workplace Prof]
- Lengthy HUD battle: 2nd Circuit notes “no finding, at any point, that Westchester actually engaged in housing discrimination” [WSJ editorial, earlier here and here]
- In 1992 Delaware settled an employment discrimination lawsuit by agreeing to assign prison guards “without regard to the gender of prisoners….A disaster ensued.” [Scott Greenfield on Cris Barrish, Wilmington News-Journal coverage]
- NYC council speaker pushing “very bad bill to extend special employment protections to caregivers” [N.Y. Daily News editorial]
Only 44 years? By then a good case is just getting warmed up, right? Sixth Circuit Senior Judge Damon Keith has been hearing the Hamtramck, Mich. litigation since his days on the U.S. District Court, and is hoping it will be over soon. [ABA Journal]
- Former NYT Peking correspondent Richard Bernstein, who now co-owns two nail salons, challenges Times blockbuster on prevalence of labor exploitation at NYC salons [New York Review of Books, Elizabeth Nolan Brown and followup, Times rebuttal. More: Bernstein rejoinder]
- More details on how studios used Mississippi attorney general’s office as cut-out against Google [Mike Masnick, TechDirt, earlier here and here, more on AG Jim Hood]
- Of course licensing laws “are only there to protect consumers and are enforced in a totally neutral way that has nothing to do with viewpoints or political pull (lol).” [Coyote on Boston mayor’s “not welcome in our town” message to Donald Trump]
- Speaking of Donald Trump, would his lawyer threaten litigation to intimidate reporter Tim Mak? Only in a totally classy way [Daily Beast, S.E. Cupp/New York Daily News (Cohen, 2011: “I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished”), earlier from the vaults on Trump’s use of litigation]
- Things class-action lawyers sue over: “Beggin’ Strips Don’t Have Enough Bacon” [Reuters, New York Post]
- As Lois Lerner targeting scandal drags on, time for Congress to impeach IRS officials? [Mike Rappaport, Liberty and Law]
- Welcome to AFFH-land: Bharara, on behalf of feds, says Westchester County should pay for not squeezing Chappaqua hard enough to approve housing project [Journal-News, earlier here and here]
- Can Uber survive California law? [Brian Doherty on ruling by state administrative law judge over shortcomings in accessibility; Kristian Stout/Truth on the Market on employee classification and compensation class action] The California Labor Commission’s worker-classification ruling has already killed cleaning-services startup Homejoy [Re/Code via @andrewmgrossman] Plus: Uber communicates satirically with its NYC customers in its battle with Mayor Bill de Blasio [Issie Lapowsky, Wired; related, Josh Greenman; and a new study of Los Angeles users finds Uber X twice as fast and half as expensive as taxis (Mark Kleiman)]
- Needed: RFRA for the prepared-foods aisle? “The Trans-Fat Ban Deals A Blow To Kosher Keepers” [Bethany Mandel, Federalist] Consumption of trans fats has already dropped by 85 percent, and “government doesn’t always know best” [me, Arizona PBS]
- “The U.S. Attorney’s Office might has well have a macro that generates gag orders” [Ken at Popehat on Reason subpoena, earlier here, etc.]
- SCOTUS struck down Ohio’s law banning false campaign speech, Massachusetts’s should fall next [Ilya Shapiro and Gabriel Latner, Cato]
- Roger Pilon on church, gays, and “simple idea that people are free to associate or not as they wish” [now un-gated, Cato/WSJ; related, Ilya Shapiro/Washington Times] More on EEOC’s ENDA-by-fiat attempt [Kent Hoover/Business Journals, Nicandro Iannacci, National Constitution Center/Yahoo (thanks for quoting in both cases); Laura Maechtlen and Sam Schwartz-Fenwick, Seyfarth Shaw; and a Washington Blade interview with EEOC member Chai Feldblum, who supported the ruling]
- More reactions to HUD’s ambitious local-neighborhood-diversity scheme, “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” [Hans Bader, Michael Barone, earlier]
- “Star Of Viral Catcalling Video Is Reportedly Suing For Compensation” [Emma Whitford, Gothamist]
- “Environmental review makes it hard to do anything — even make a new bike lane” [Matthew Yglesias, Vox]
- Outdoors education: don’t just treat nature as a museum for kids, let them play in it [Lenore Skenazy]
- Not more outcry? “Philadelphia To Seize 1,330 Properties For Public Redevelopment” [Scott Beyer, more]
- Influencing proceedings against Chevron: “Documents Reveal Ecuadorian Government Organized Protests on U.S. Soil” [Lachlan Markay, Free Beacon]
- Inholders can be caught in maze of jurisdictional obstacles when attempting to challenge federal land takings, Nevada church deprived of former water use deserves a remedy [Ilya Shapiro, Cato on cert petition in Ministerio Roca Solida v. United States]
- Touchy legacy for HUD today: New Deal housing programs advanced segregation, sometimes on purpose [Coyote]
- Payouts in BP Gulf spill headed for $68 billion, much going to uninjured parties, sending message to overseas investors not to invest in US [Collin Eaton, San Antonio Express-News] Bad results in BP episode will help teach Takata and other mass tort defendants not to try the “right thing” again [Joseph Nocera, N.Y. Times]
- Please just don’t: “Should Happy Hour be banned?” [New York Times “Room for Debate”]
- “This furniture must be affixed to the wall with the enclosed wall fastener.” Ikea liable for tip-over hazard anyway? [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use, Pennsylvania]
- Oh, great: making writers declare as taxable income the (face?) value of review-copy books they’re sent [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism]
- “Every state county or municipality…should think long and hard before taking a dime in HUD money.” [Richard Epstein, Hoover “Defining Ideas”, “The Folly of ‘Fair’ Housing”] “Confusion and uncertainty” in housing sector as to what disparate impact liability actually will mean, after Supreme Court ruling [Hans Bader, CEI; earlier]
- And he’ll take the low road: “Donald Trump sued Scotland” [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
- Garlock database shows “staggering” amount of money changing hands in asbestos litigation [Madison County Record]
- Harm reduction and its enemies: “Two Surveys Find That Almost All Regular Vapers Are Smokers” [Jacob Sullum, earlier]
…There’s nothing fair about it. I’ve got a post at Cato about yesterday’s important Supreme Court victory for the Left in which Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four liberals to hold that current federal law allows housing suits based on “disparate impact” theories. I explain why pundits are being silly when they claim that the Court “saved” the Fair Housing Act or that a contrary ruling would have “gutted” it, and why Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas were right in their dissents to spotlight the shaky basis of the theory in the statutory text, going back to the original disparate-impact case, Griggs v. Duke Power.
True, Kennedy did throw a sop or two about how courts applying disparate impact need to avoid pressuring actors toward the potentially unconstitutional result of quotas. Although some consider these bits of wording significant, I suspect that will mean about as much as similar sops that the Court has thrown over the years about avoiding quotas in employment and education, i.e., not much. Others, such as Cory Andrews of WLF, point to Kennedy language suggesting (on what statutory basis is not entirely clear) that disparate impact scrutiny might be limited to “artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary” practices, a narrowness of approach not seen in other disparate-impact contexts. How administrable such a standard might prove, or how much litigation will be needed before it is clarified, is anyone’s guess.
Some further background on Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project: SCOTUSBlog, Cato’s brief in the case and earlier coverage by Ilya Shapiro and company here and here, and my podcast.
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.