Page:Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.pdf/25

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Cite as: 576 U. S. ____ (2015)

Opinion of the Court

tiple factors that go into investment decisions about where to construct or renovate housing units. And as Judge Jones observed below, if the ICP cannot show a causal connection between the Department’s policy and a disparate impact—for instance, because federal law substantially limits the Department’s discretion—that should result in dismissal of this case. 747 F. 3d, at 283–284 (specially concurring opinion).

The FHA imposes a command with respect to disparate-impact liability. Here, that command goes to a state entity. In other cases, the command will go to a private person or entity. Governmental or private policies are not contrary to the disparate-impact requirement unless they are "artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary barriers." Griggs, 401 U. S., at 431. Difficult questions might arise if disparate-impact liability under the FHA caused race to be used and considered in a pervasive and explicit manner to justify governmental or private actions that, in fact, tend to perpetuate race-based considerations rather than move beyond them. Courts should avoid interpreting disparate-impact liability to be so expansive as to inject racial considerations into every housing decision.

The limitations on disparate-impact liability discussed here are also necessary to protect potential defendants against abusive disparate-impact claims. If the specter of disparate-impact litigation causes private developers to no longer construct or renovate housing units for low-income individuals, then the FHA would have undermined its own purpose as well as the free-market system. And as to governmental entities, they must not be prevented from achieving legitimate objectives, such as ensuring compliance with health and safety codes. The Department's amici, in addition to the well-stated principal dissenting opinion in this case, see post, at 1–2, 29–30 (opinion of Alito, J.), call attention to the decision by the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Gallagher v. Magner,