Fair Housing Case Moves Forward in Federal Court

From the Wall Street Journal Law Blog:

The reach of U.S. fair-housing law has been an elusive topic for the Supreme Court, which has seen two recent housing cases disappear from its docket.  A new case moving forward in Washington may give the justices another opportunity.

To make matters more interesting, the judge presiding over the litigation is the newly famous Richard Leon, who last week ruled the National Security Agency’s mass collection of phone records “almost certainly” violates the Constitution.

At issue is the civil-rights era Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discriminatory housing practices.  Plaintiffs have used the law to challenge practices that affect minorities disproportionately, without having to prove intentional discrimination.  Advocates say the approach is key to protecting minority rights in some circumstances…

The latest case, filed in June, is a challenge by two trade associations representing the insurance industry.  The American Insurance Association and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies are challenging a Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation from February that explicitly allows disparate-impact claims.  They say the rule must be struck down because the Fair Housing Act “prohibits only intentional discrimination and not practices that result in a disparate impact.”