Wednesday, October 12, 2016
What happens when local government policies run head-on into federal civil rights laws? Nowhere does this question assume greater importance than with land use and fair housing, yet in the nearly half-century since the passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), courts and commentators have skirted the question. With the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Inclusive Communities Project v. Texas, the most significant fair housing decision in the nation’s history, they can no longer do so. This Article represents the first sustained effort to show how the FHA affects land use, the most important power that cities have under American localism. The Supreme Court held for the first time that the FHA allows disparate impact liability, and outlined when such disparate impact cases can be brought. But it left many crucial questions unanswered, and this Article attempts to fill the gap. It concludes that when cities restrict affordable and multifamily housing, which often has a disparate impact on people of color, zoning ordinances must withstand intermediate scrutiny in order to be sustained. Courts must balance local policies with demands for inclusion: sometimes those policies will triumph, but in many instances they will not, for they rest on weak empirical or legal foundations, or they can be addressed in less restrictive ways. The Article sets forth a series of the most common scenarios and justifications for exclusionary zoning, and seeks to show that such justifications have far less purchase than is commonly supposed. The FHA comes nowhere close to abolishing zoning, but it does insist that local zoning must no longer exclude racial minorities, and the Court’s decision makes clear how fair housing advocates can and should use the law to fight such exclusion. If localities no longer have the discretion to exclude people of color, then that is the price of equality.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
"From Stopping Black People to Killing Black People: The Fourth Amendment Pathways to Police Violence"
2014 to 2016 likely will go down as a significant if not watershed moment in the history of U.S. race relations. Police killing of African Americans has engendered further conversations about race and policing. Yet, in most of the discussions about these tragic deaths, little attention has been paid to a significant dimension of the police violence problem: the legalization of racial profiling in Fourth Amendment law. This legalization of racial profiling is not a sideline or peripheral feature of Fourth Amendment law. It is embedded in the analytical structure of the doctrine in ways that enable police officers to force engagements with African Americans with little or no basis. The frequency of these engagements exposes African Americans not only to the violence of ongoing police surveillance, contact, and social control but also to the violence of serious bodily injury and death. Which is to say, Fourth Amendment law facilitates the space between stopping black people and killing black people. This Article demonstrates precisely how by employing a series of hypotheticals to reveal the ways in which the extraordinary violence police officers often use against Africans Americans can grow out of the ordinary police interactions Fourth Amendment law empowers police officers to stage.