WASHINGTON, June 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 vote, ruled Thursday that illegal discrimination in housing need not be intentional for plaintiffs to sue.
In Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, the court said legal objections of plaintiffs filing under the Fair Housing Act, to zoning and lending practices need only to demonstrate a disparate impact on minorities, typically presented as data and not as an individual's grievance, and not a deliberate intent to discriminate.
"Suits targeting unlawful zoning laws and other housing restrictions that unfairly exclude minorities from certain neighborhoods without sufficient justification are at the heartland of disparate-impact liability," said the ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The upholding of the housing discrimination law can be regarded as a victory for civil rights and housing rights groups, and an end to efforts by opponents of the law, part of the 1968 Civil Rights Act. The law was opposed by many builders, insurers and lenders. The Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges to the law on two prior occasions, only to see the cases withdrawn or settled.