Civil rights groups won a victory Thursday, as the Supreme Court ruled that claims of racial discrimination in housing cases shouldn't be limited by questions of intent.
The court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision in a case in which a nonprofit group, the Inclusive Communities Project, said that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had contributed to "segregated housing patterns by allocating too many tax credits to housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods."
The 5-4 ruling endorses the notion of citing disparate impact in housing cases, meaning that statistics and other evidence can be used to show decisions and practices have discriminatory effects — without proving that they're the result of discriminatory intentions.
"Justice Anthony Kennedy surprised many legal experts by siding with the court's four liberals," NPR's Carrie Johnson reports. "Business groups had long sought to limit lawsuits over the 1968 Fair Housing Act."
Reacting to the ruling, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says, "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."