Page:Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.pdf/9

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

Opinion of the Court

have placed the burden on the Department to prove there were no less discriminatory alternatives for allocating low-income housing tax credits. Id., at 282–283. In a concurring opinion, Judge Jones stated that on remand the District Court should reexamine whether the ICP had made out a prima facie case of disparate impact. She suggested the District Court incorrectly relied on bare statistical evidence without engaging in any analysis about causation. She further observed that, if the federal law providing for the distribution of low-income housing tax credits ties the Department’s hands to such an extent that it lacks a meaningful choice, then there is no disparate-impact liability. See id., at 283–284 (specially concurring opinion).

The Department filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on the question whether disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the FHA. The question was one of first impression, see Huntington v. Huntington Branch, NAACP, 488 U. S. 15 (1988) (per curiam), and certiorari followed, 573 U. S. ___ (2014). It is now appropriate to provide a brief history of the FHA’s enactment and its later amendment.


De jure residential segregation by race was declared unconstitutional almost a century ago, Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U. S. 60 (1917), but its vestiges remain today, intertwined with the country’s economic and social life. Some segregated housing patterns can be traced to conditions that arose in the mid-20th century. Rapid urbanization, concomitant with the rise of suburban developments accessible by car, led many white families to leave the inner cities. This often left minority families concentrated in the center of the Nation’s cities. During this time, various practices were followed, sometimes with governmental support, to encourage and maintain the separation