Page:Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.pdf/8

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Opinion of the Court

2012). The remedial order contained no explicit racial targets or quotas.

While the Department’s appeal was pending, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a regulation interpreting the FHA to encompass disparate-impact liability. See Implementation of the Fair Housing Act's Discriminatory Effects Standard, 78 Fed. Reg. 11460 (2013). The regulation also established a burden-shifting framework for adjudicating disparate-impact claims. Under the regulation, a plaintiff first must make a prima facie showing of disparate impact. That is, the plaintiff "has the burden of proving that a challenged practice caused or predictably will cause a discriminatory effect." 24 CFR §100.500(c)(1) (2014). If a statistical discrepancy is caused by factors other than the defendant’s policy, a plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie case, and there is no liability. After a plaintiff does establish a prima facie showing of disparate impact, the burden shifts to the defendant to “prov[e] that the challenged practice is necessary to achieve one or more substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interests." §100.500(c)(2). HUD has clarified that this step of the analysis "is analogous to the Title VII requirement that an employer's interest in an employment practice with a disparate impact be job related." 78 Fed. Reg. 11470. Once a defendant has satisfied its burden at step two, a plaintiff may “prevail upon proving that the substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interests supporting the challenged practice could be served by another practice that has a less discriminatory effect." §100.500(c)(3).

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held, consistent with its precedent, that disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the FHA. 747 F. 3d 275, 280 (2014). On the merits, however, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. Relying on HUD’s regulation, the Court of Appeals held that it was improper for the District Court to