Page:Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.pdf/46

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TEXAS DEPT. OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY AFFAIRS v. INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES PROJECT, INC.

Alito, J., dissenting

500 U. S. 352, 359–360 (1991) (plurality opinion) (same); Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U. S. 275, 278, 280 (2001) (holding that it is "beyond dispute" that banning discrimination "'on the ground of race'" "prohibits only intentional discrimination").

This is precisely how Congress used the phrase "because of" elsewhere in the FHA. The FHA makes it a crime to willfully "interfere with . . . any person because of his race" (or other protected characteristic) who is engaging in a variety of real-estate-related activities, such as "selling, purchasing, [or] renting" a dwelling. 42 U. S. C. §3631(a). No one thinks a defendant could be convicted of this crime without proof that he acted "because of," i.e., on account of or by reason of, one of the protected characteristics. But the critical language in this section—"because of"—is identical to the critical language in the sections at issue in this case. "One ordinarily assumes" Congress means the same words in the same statute to mean the same thing. Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, 573 U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (slip op., at 15). There is no reason to doubt that ordinary assumption here.

Like the FHA, many other federal statutes use the phrase "because of" to signify what that phrase means in ordinary speech. For instance, the federal hate crime statute, 18 U. S. C. §249, authorizes enhanced sentences for defendants convicted of committing certain crimes "because of" race, color, religion, or other listed characteristics. Hate crimes require bad intent—indeed, that is the whole point of these laws. See, e.g., Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 U. S. 476, 484–485 (1993) ("[T]he same criminal conduct may be more heavily punished if the victim is selected because of his race or other protected status"). All of this confirms that "because of" in the FHA should be read to mean what it says.