U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS accepts Fair Housing case, but it could be resolved in settlement talks

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again agreed to decide whether Fair Housing Act cases may be based on disparate impact analysis, and once again an agreement could derail the case.

The court granted cert on Monday in a suit filed by residents of a predominantly minority neighborhood in Mount Holly, N.J., who object to plans to demolish their homes and replace them with market-rate housing. At issue is whether the plaintiffs can use disparate-impact theory to prove their case or whether they have to show intentional discrimination. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Bloomberg News, the New Jersey Star-Ledger and the CFPB Monitor have stories, while the American Civil Liberties Union and Ballard Spahr have press releases. Ballard Spahr represents one of the defendants.

The litigants will discuss a settlement on Thursday, the Philadelphia Inquirer says. “Though the U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to take on the Mount Holly housing discrimination case,” the story says, “some lawyers involved say that settlement talks have turned serious and that it may become moot for the justices to step in.”

An agreement in a Minnesota housing case accepted for cert last term has created controversy for Labor Secretary nominee Tom Perez, who was involved in the negotiations as an assistant attorney general. As a result of the agreement, the city of St. Paul, Minn., dropped its appeal.

The new case is Mount Holly Township v. Mount Holly Gardens Citizens in Action. SCOTUSblog has links to briefs, the cert petition (PDF) and the appellate opinion in the case.

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