The Court ruled that the law meant to prevent housing discrimination applies not only for claims of intentional discrimination but also covers practices that have a non-intentional discriminatory effect.

Several weeks ago, the New York Times posted an editorial in the wake of the Baltimore riots that charted efforts the Republic and Democratic administrations have taken to enforce the Fair Housing Act of 1968. 

As the editorial explained, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was designed to undo decades of public and private actions that contributed to racial segregation, but to fully enforce the act took political courage that few administrations have mustered.

Talk Radio News reports  on Thursday, the Supreme Court affirmed, 5-4, that "the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs was guilty of housing discrimination by way of encouraging racial segregation in its allocating tax credits to developers of low-income housing projects in greatly minority populated areas."

Vox reports:

The case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., focuses on the disparate impact portion of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prevented housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, in an effort to combat residential segregation during the civil rights era.

A disparate impact claim means that regardless of intent, a law results in discrimination. This means that appellants only have to prove that a law's impact results in discrimination, and not the additional claim that the writers of the law intended it to have that impact. Disparate impact is a key component of the Fair Housing Act, and is an important tool for the federal government in prosecuting instances of discrimination. The Supreme Court affirmed this component in its decision.

Prior to the ruling, civil rights advocates were concerned that the court would rule against a disparate impact claim, thus taking the teeth out of the Fair Housing Act. They were relieved to see the Supreme Court uphold the act in its entirety. 

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