Opinion of the Court
A comparison to the antidiscrimination statutes examined in Griggs and Smith is useful. Title VII’s and the ADEA's "otherwise adversely affect" language is equivalent in function and purpose to the FHA's "otherwise make unavailable" language. In these three statutes the operative text looks to results. The relevant statutory phrases, moreover, play an identical role in the structure common to all three statutes: Located at the end of lengthy sentences that begin with prohibitions on disparate treatment, they serve as catchall phrases looking to consequences, not intent. And all three statutes use the word "otherwise" to introduce the results-oriented phrase. "Otherwise" means "in a different way or manner," thus signaling a shift in emphasis from an actor's intent to the consequences of his actions. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1598 (1971). This similarity in text and structure is all the more compelling given that Congress passed the FHA in 1968—only four years after passing Title VII and only four months after enacting the ADEA.
It is true that Congress did not reiterate Title VII's exact language in the FHA, but that is because to do so would have made the relevant sentence awkward and unclear. A provision making it unlawful to "refuse to sell[,] . . . or otherwise [adversely affect], a dwelling to any person" because of a protected trait would be grammatically obtuse, difficult to interpret, and far more expansive in scope than Congress likely intended. Congress thus chose words that serve the same purpose and bear the same basic meaning but are consistent with the structure and objectives of the FHA.
Emphasizing that the FHA uses the phrase "because of race," the Department argues this language forecloses disparate-impact liability since "[a]n action is not taken 'because of race' unless race is a reason for the action." Brief for Petitioners 26. Griggs and Smith, however,