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Fair Housing Defense Information on and Compliance with the FHA

Will the Supreme Court Actually Issue a Decision on the “Disparate Impact” Question as it Relates to the Fair Housing Act?

Posted in FHA Basics

A Fair Housing Defense Blog reader sent me a question about the “disparate impact” and Fair Housing Act (FHA) case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court that I wrote about in my last entry (on August 26, 2013).  That is the case in which the Supreme Court agreed to answer the question of whether “disparate impact” claims are valid under the FHA.

A reader wanted to know if indeed the high court would finally provide guidance on this important point.  The answer to that is yes, unless (a) the case settles; or (b) the Supreme Court concludes its decision to take the case was “improvidently granted” and the justices reverse their decision to answer the question.   Unlike most courts, it is important to remember that the Supreme Court is a court which gets to pick and choose which cases it wants to hear (and decide).

Various trade press and media reports have noted that the parties are in serious discussions that would result in the Mount Holly Gardens case settling.  Whether those discussions are truly “serious” remains to be seen.  Indeed, there are absolutely times when a party (and lawyer) on one side of a case does not want to give a judge (or in this case the Supreme Court) the chance to issue an opinion that would, in their view, “make bad law” – in other words issue a decision that goes against them.  One way to avoid such a circumstance would be to amicably resolve the matter on terms the other side feels are fair.  If the case settles, the parties notify the Court that the case has been resolved and there is nothing left for the Court to decide.  Am I telling you the case will settle?  No.  Only that the parties continue to discuss an amicable resolution.  To be sure, there are many in the professional apartment management business who absolutely would like the Supreme Court to rule on the point.

Your Fair Housing Defense blog editor will stay on watch and will report back if indeed the Supreme Court actually hears the case, if it settles, or if the Court decides it should not answer the question.  Hope that helps.

Just A Thought.