Page:Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.pdf/43

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

Alito, J., dissenting


I begin with the text. Section 804(a) of the FHA makes it unlawful "[t]o refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin." 42 U. S. C. §3604(a) (emphasis added). Similarly, §805(a) prohibits any party "whose business includes engaging in residential real estate-related transactions" from "discriminat[ing] against any person in making available such a transaction, or in the terms or conditions of such a transaction, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin." §3605(a) (emphasis added).

In both sections, the key phrase is "because of." These provisions list covered actions (“refus[ing] to sell or rent . . . a dwelling," "refus[ing] to negotiate for the sale or rental of . . . a dwelling," "discriminat[ing]" in a residential real estate transaction, etc.) and protected characteristics ("race," "religion," etc.). The link between the actions and the protected characteristics is "because of."

What "because of" means is no mystery. Two Terms ago, we held that “the ordinary meaning of 'because of' is 'by reason of' or 'on account of.' University of Tex. Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, 570 U. S. ___, ___ (2013) (slip op., at 9) (quoting Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., 557 U. S. 167, 176 (2009); some internal quotation marks omitted). A person acts "because of" something else, we explained, if that something else "'was the "reason" that the [person] decided to act.'" 570 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 10).

Indeed, just weeks ago, the Court made this same point in interpreting a provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U. S. C. §2000e–2(m), that makes it unlawful for an employer to take a variety of adverse employment actions (such as failing or refusing to hire a job