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The Supreme Court saved the Fair Housing Act of 1968

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  1. In a close 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that stated the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs was guilty of housing discrimination.
  2. The case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., focuses on the disparate impact portion of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prevented housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, in an effort to combat residential segregation during the civil rights era.
  3. A disparate impact claim means that regardless of intent, a law results in discrimination. This means that appellants only have to prove that a law's impact results in discrimination, and not the additional claim that the writers of the law intended it to have that impact. Disparate impact is a key component of the Fair Housing Act, and is an important tool for the federal government in prosecuting instances of discrimination. The Supreme Court affirmed this component in its decision.
  4. The case was brought by the Inclusive Communities Project, a Dallas-based nonprofit that works to improve racial and socioeconomic integration within neighborhoods. Inclusive Communities, as they are known, sued Texas in 2008, on the grounds that the agency encouraged racial segregation in its support of low-income housing projects.
  5. The decision came as somewhat of a surprise to civil rights advocates who were concerned that the Roberts court, if given the chance, would rule against a disparate impact claim, thus taking the teeth out of the Fair Housing Act. In 2013, the Court invalidated a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, another nondiscrimination law from the civil rights era.

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