How to Get a Better Fair Housing Law
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 is unconstitutional because it violates the right to equal protection.
The court said the law was intended to ensure that fair housing protections are given equal weight in a civil rights context and to foster the formation of a more just and equal society.
The ruling was announced after a two-day hearing in which the high court heard arguments from a dozen state attorneys general and a diverse group of civil rights leaders who have challenged the law.
The ruling comes as California is grappling with rising homelessness, racial inequality and other challenges.
“Today’s decision makes clear that the law cannot be considered to have an intent to create a more equal society in California by preventing certain persons from enjoying certain public accommodations, but rather, to foster a more equitable society by requiring that fair accommodations are accorded equal weight,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the majority opinion.
“It is time for Congress to pass legislation that provides a remedy to the discriminatory intent of the federal Fair Housing Acts.”
The Supreme Court said the Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law that provides wage and hour protections to workers, was meant to protect people from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age or disability.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has served on the court since 1986, dissented, saying that the court should have left it up to the states to decide how to enforce the law, and that Congress should be free to enact laws with the intent of protecting people.
“We are the ones who are most impacted by these laws, and we should be empowered to decide when to pass laws that will protect our communities and the people we love, Justice Ginsburg wrote.