I have written about disparate impact many times over the past couple of years. I was gravely concerned about Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be the next Attorney General because of the huge role she has played in civil asset forfeiture cases. Now that the disparate impact case has been decided by the Supreme Court, I am concerned that she will now take up the mantle of disparate impact, much in the way Thomas Perez, the Labor Secretary, has done (and don’t forget, Perez was the original front runner for the AG job).
Below is Loretta Lynch’s statement on the SCOTUS ruling regarding disparate impact — the last line says it all: “Bolstered by this important ruling, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act with every tool at its disposal – including challenges based on unfair and unacceptable discriminatory effects.”
Remember, disparate impact allows if a protected class of citizens has a statistically lesser representation with respect to a business (hiring, mortgages origination, etc) it may be implied that the business or offender has intentionally discriminated — because there is an adverse impact as a result. In other words, “offenders” can be sought after for violating the law, whether or not there was actual intent. Unfortunately, disparate impact thus puts the burden to show lack of discrimination on the accused offender, meaning he is guilty until proven innocent.
It looks like with this statement that the Department of Justice will begin to more actively pursue disparate impact cases.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Thursday, June 25, 2015
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communites Project Inc.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch released the following statement today after the Supreme Court ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project Inc.:
“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has affirmed that the Fair Housing Act encompasses disparate impact claims, which are an essential tool for realizing the Act’s promise of fair and open access to housing opportunities for all Americans. While our nation has made tremendous progress since the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, disparate impact claims remain an all-too-necessary mechanism for rooting out discrimination in housing and lending. By recognizing that laws, policies and practices with unjustified discriminatory effects are inconsistent with the Fair Housing Act, today’s decision lends support to hardworking Americans who are attempting to find good housing opportunities for themselves and their families. Bolstered by this important ruling, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act with every tool at its disposal – including challenges based on unfair and unacceptable discriminatory effects.”