The Solicitor General’s office is currently considering whether it will recommend to the Supreme Court of the United States that it should hear a case that could have far-reaching effects on diverse communities and cripple civil rights advocates’ abilities to enforce decades-old fair housing law. The Township of Mount Holly appealed its case to the Court in June, 2012, requesting that it strike down the availability of plaintiffs in fair housing cases to pursue claims based on disparate impact.
On October 29, 2012, instead of granting or denying the Township’s petition, the Court invited the U.S. Solicitor General to express the views of the United States on the issues in the case. The Solicitor General is currently deliberating over and briefing the issues in the case. When it completes this task, it will submit its views to the Court. The Court will then consider the Solicitor General’s views in deciding whether to hear the case, but it is not obligated to follow them. If the Court decides to hear the case, it will read briefs and hear oral arguments on the following issues:
- Are the 11 courts of appeals and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development wrong in concluding that disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act?
- Should the Supreme Court establish a methodology for assessing disparate impact claims under the FHA?
If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case and overrule the 11 courts of appeal on the first issue, Township of Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. will have far-reaching effects and cripple civil rights advocates’ abilities to enforce fair housing law.