Tag: housing discrimination

Knowing about Segregationist Housing Policy Is the First Step to Justice

In education, there is a widespread belief: the federal government ended segregation. This is, of course, based on the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, and subsequent federal efforts to end segregated schooling. But as a sobering new book by the Economic Policy Institute’s Richard Rothstein makes clear, while all levels of government forced, coerced, or cajoled racial segregation through housing policy, the feds may have been the worst, and the crippling legacy of those actions may be much further reaching than even schooling policy.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America is essentially a catalogue of discriminatory housing policies perpetrated throughout the 20th Century, but peaking from the 1930s through the 1960s. It chronicles local injustices including police ignoring or even stoking mobs that tormented African Americans who dared buy a home in a white neighborhood, and states with segregationist intent mandating local referenda to approve low-income family public housing. But it is the federal government that seems to have had the most powerful hand in it all, if for no other reason than only it could sweep every American into the corners where it decided they did—or did not—belong.

Agency Will Stop Treating Political Speech as Fair-Housing Violation

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has agreed to stop investigating citizens on the theory that their political expression in and of itself constitutes a potential violation of laws against housing discrimination. The concession came in a settlement with Julie Waltz, whom it had dragged through an investigation for publicly opposing the placement of subsidized group homes in and near her Norco, Calif. residence. A news release from the Center for Individual Rights:

During the year-long investigation, state investigators told Waltz that her speech violated state fair housing laws, requested that she refrain from her speech activities, and threatened her with prosecution. An investigator also told her that the investigation would end if she removed signs from her yard objecting to the next-door group home as well as signs posted by other people in her neighborhood. Waltz declined to remove the signs. …

Waltz was represented by the Los Angeles, CA firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, which donated its time pro bono and the Center for Individual Rights.

When it comes to trampling the First Amendment, California fair housing officials are serial offenders: in 2000 and again in 2006, CIR says, the Ninth Circuit handed down rulings restraining them from similar practices.