Fair Housing Clinic Works on Another Supreme Court Case

This Spring Semester, the C|M|LAW’s Fair Housing Clinic will be doing an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of  Magner v. Gallagher10-1032 .  According to Professor Ed Kramer of the Fair Housing Clinic, this case presents the most serious challenge to civil rights in this country in four decades.

ISSUES:  (1) Whether a lawsuit can be brought for a violation of the Fair Housing Act based on a practice that is not discriminatory on its own, but has a discriminatory effect; and, if so, (2) how should courts determine whether a practice has a discriminatory effect and violates the Act? (From the Scotus blog)

The plaintiffs (rental property owners) claim that the defendants (City of St. Paul, and certain employees of the City of St. Paul) violated the Fair Housing Act 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a) by aggressively enforcing the City’s housing code against rental properties, but not against owner-occupied housing.  According to the plaintiffs/respondents, because a disproportionate number of renters are African-American, and Respondents rent to many African-Americans, requiring them to meet the housing code will increase their costs and decrease the number of units they make available to rent to African-American tenants.  The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City, but the  Eighth Circuit reversed, finding that Respondents should be allowed to proceed to trial because they presented sufficient evidence of a “disparate impact” on African- Americans.  619 F.3d 823.

Professor Kramer says,  “The Supreme Court decision on whether the Fair Housing Act (FHA) permits disparate impact claims can have the most serious impact on enforcing equal housing opportunities since the enactment of the law in 1968.”  The brief drafted by  our clinic will be joined by fair housing groups, local governments, civil rights agencies and professors using statistical analysis.


I hope you will join the Clinic in fighting this most serious challenge to civil rights in this country in four decades!