Posts Tagged ‘housing discrimination’

Discrimination law roundup

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law two doubtfully constitutional bills applying to campuses an overbroad, subjective definition of sexual harassment, and requiring all college employees to report such conduct on pain of criminal penalty [Tyler Coward, FIRE]
  • New York adopts workplace harassment law that’s much more speech-hostile than federal, including a dropping of the requirement that prohibited expression be “severe or pervasive” [Hans Bader; Wiggin & Dana, NLR; Douglas Oldham, Barnes & Thornburg]
  • One to watch: SCOTUS will decide standard for proving s. 1981 discrimination claims, in case accusing Comcast of bias in not carrying programming of black network [ABA Journal]
  • A thumbs-down review: “The Kamala Harris Plan to Address the Gender Pay Gap,” Cato Daily Podcast with Ryan Bourne and Caleb Brown;
  • Even when there’s nothing unlawful about an eviction, city bars landlords from telling tenants they’re being evicted for discriminatory reasons. Laws banning truthful business speech about lawful conduct should trip First Amendment review [Ilya Shapiro on Cato amicus brief in Seeberger v. Davenport Civil Rights Commission]
  • Second Circuit withdraws decision that held landlords liable for tenant-on-tenant harassment under Fair Housing Act [Scott Greenfield, earlier]

Trouble at Sedgwick Gardens

In D.C.’s Cleveland Park, a neighborhood that reporter Peter Jamison describes as a “bastion of urbane liberalism,” a stately apartment complex called the Sedgwick Gardens is something of an experimental subject for a combination of various progressive housing policies. “As of February, tenants with city-issued housing vouchers had filled nearly half of the building’s roughly 140 units,” and many of the new tenants “are homeless men and women who came directly from shelters or the streets, some still struggling with severe behavioral problems.” Jamison tells the story in this Washington Post article (reprinted at Seattle Times).

More on the District of Columbia’s “source of income discrimination” law, under which landlords commit a violation if they reject a prospective tenant because he or she will be paid for by a voucher, here and here.

May 9 roundup

  • Next sector for a boom in IP litigation: trade secrets? [Ike Brannon]
  • Creating split among federal appeals courts, Seventh Circuit rules auto-erotic asphyxiation falls under insurance policy exclusion for “self-inflicted injury.” [Volokh; Tran v. Minnesota Life Insurance Company] In its commentary, the Institute for Justice is willing to go there: “Will the Supreme Court resolve the split? Don’t hold your breath.”
  • “The county has assigned at least four prosecutors to handle the Bellevue cat case” as Miska, the most notorious cat in King County, Washington, lawyers up [KIRO, update]
  • I’m quoted in article on Supreme Court’s agreeing to consider whether 1964 ban on employment discrimination because of sex includes ban on transgender discrimination [Nicole Russell, Washington Examiner]
  • Federalist Society podcast on populist antitrust with Babette Boliek, Geoffrey Manne, William Rinehart, Hal Singer, and Joanna Tsai;
  • Did a mobile home park violate housing discrimination law by checking applicants’ lawful immigration status? Fourth Circuit ruling threatens to open “disparate-impact” floodgates Supreme Court warned of in earlier case [Ilya Shapiro and Nathan Harvey on Cato cert amicus in Waples Mobile Home Park v. de Reyes]

March 13 roundup

  • “Near the end of her new proposal to break up Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple, Senator Warren asks, ‘So what would the Internet look like after all these reforms?’ It’s a good question.” [Geoffrey Manne and Alec Stapp, Truth on the Market/CNBC]
  • Floral arrangements as constitutionally protected expression: Cato files amicus on behalf of First Amendment rights of Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman not to serve a wedding of which she disapproves [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran, Washington Supreme Court]
  • “Over several months, man repeatedly threatens his next-door neighbor with profanity, racial epithets. The police investigate, warn the man to stop, and then arrest him when he does not. Eventually, the man leaves the apartment complex after the landlord declines to renew his lease. Can the neighbor sue the landlord for failing to intervene sooner? The Second Circuit says yes, the neighbor’s Fair Housing Act claims should not have been dismissed. Dissent: The FHA doesn’t say landlords can be liable for tenant-on-tenant harassment; more likely it precludes such claims.” [IJ “Short Circuit” on Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Second Circuit; Scott Greenfield]
  • Gender identity: R. Shep Melnick on where the momentum is headed among judges, regulators, and administrators [Liberty and Law]
  • Comfort for lawmakers means discomfort for taxpayers? Study finds “growth in state government expenditures in warm states was higher after the introduction of air conditioning” [Thomas A. Garrett and Natalia A. Kolesnikova, Cato Journal]
  • “Succubustic” is not a word you should probably use at all, certainly not to describe any real person, and most definitely not if you are a lawyer to describe a judge [Lowering the Bar]

December 5 roundup

  • “An important win for property owners”: Supreme Court rules 8-0 that protected species habitat doesn’t include tracts containing no actual dusty gopher frogs and not inhabitable by them absent modification [Roger Pilon, George Will, earlier on Weyerhaeuser v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Cato Daily Podcast with Holly Fretwell and Caleb Brown (“The Frog Never Had a Chance”)]
  • Proposed revision of federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would expand definition of domestic violence to include nonviolent “verbal, emotional, economic, or technological” abuse. Vagueness only the start of the problems here [Wendy McElroy, The Hill]
  • Bad ideas endorsed by the American Bar Association, part 3,972: laws requiring landlords to take Section 8 tenants [ABA Journal; earlier on “source of income discrimination” laws]
  • Minneapolis “Healthy Foods Ordinance” drives up costs for convenience stores, worsens food waste, pressures ethnic grocers into Anglo formats [Christian Britschgi]
  • New York Attorney General-elect Letitia (Tish) James has been zealous about suit-filing in recent years, quality another matter [Scott Greenfield]
  • “Plaintiff wins $1,000 in statutory damages for technical violation of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (Debt collector illegally used the words ‘credit bureau’ in its business name.) After plaintiff’s lawyers seek $130k in fees, district court awards them the princely sum of $0. Fifth Circuit: Just so. While fees are ordinarily mandatory, ‘special circumstances’ obtain here: The record suggests that the plaintiff colluded with her lawyers to generate this ‘outrageous’ fee-heavy lawsuit in Texas instead of in her home state of Louisiana.” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit” on Davis v. Credit Bureau of the South]

November 7 roundup

  • Notwithstanding one-person-one-vote, some House districts do have unusually high or low populations. Main reasons: 1) Small states get rounded up or down; 2) demographics change in existing districts over 10-year Census cycle especially where new housing is being built [Hristina Byrnes, 24/7 Wall Street, I’m quoted]
  • “‘Outrageously excessive’ requests for attorney fees can be altogether denied, 3rd Circuit says” [ABA Journal]
  • Prenda copyright troll Paul Hansmeier, who also did mass ADA filings, pleads guilty to fraud and money laundering charges [Dan Browning, Minneapolis Star-Tribune via Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
  • Thread: calm, factual discussion of Department of Justice brief on Title VII and gender identity [Popehat on Twitter]
  • We’ve often discussed the high cost of the maritime-protectionist Jones Act, and now Cato has launched a Project on Jones Act Reform;
  • “Landlord, a Fairfax, Va. mobile home park, imposes requirement that all adult tenants show proof of legal residence in the country; four Latino families (four men with legal status, four women who are illegal immigrants, and 10 U.S. citizen children) face fines, eviction. A violation of the Fair Housing Act? Could be, says the Fourth Circuit (over a dissent).” [IJ Short Circuit]

Can landlords opt out of the Section 8 rental program?

The Section 8 federal housing voucher program was conceived as one in which owners of rental properties participate voluntarily, but that may be changing. One straw in the wind: the push for “source of income discrimination” laws prohibiting landlords from turning away Section 8 tenants. Another: a new Third Circuit decision declaring that the owner of a unit converted to market-rate could not refuse to renew a lease even after the original tenant died. I look at Hayes v. Harvey in my new post at Cato.

HUD’s Carson to localities: stop throttling housing availability

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is pressing local governments to ease barriers to housing construction, which might turn out to be a genuinely progressive stance in a period in which housing costs are soaring in many in-demand cities, led by the West Coast. One reason for HUD to take notice of these local barriers to building is that by artificially driving up rents and construction costs, they drive up the cost of HUD’s own programs: “the most-restrictively zoned states receive nearly twice the federal dollars per capita compared to the least-restrictively zoned states…Determining whether attaching requirements to grants is a constitutionally-sound strategy is best decided by a legal expert. However, Carson’s new focus on educating policy makers on the damaging consequences of local policy, while acknowledging HUD cannot overcome local problems by spending money, is a welcome change.” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato]

More/related: Tyler Cowen (on New York Times coverage), Elijah Chiland, Curbed L.A., and Ilya Somin on introduction of bill by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to discourage exclusionary zoning by attaching strings to the (itself highly dubious) $3.3 billion federal Community Development Block Grant program.

July 5 roundup