Sources: Trump Administration Considering an Attack on Disparate Impact

The Supreme Court upheld the disparate impact doctrine at the heart of fair housing rules, along with many other anti-discrimination policies, in 2015. Still, the Trump administration is looking for ways to undermine disparate impact.
January 9, 2019, 5am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Jack Fordyce

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the disparate impact doctrine at the heart of fair housing rules, along with many other anti-discrimination policies, in 2015. Still, the Trump administration is looking for ways to undermine disparate impact in practice.

"The Trump administration is considering a far-reaching rollback of civil rights law that would dilute federal rules against discrimination in education, housing and other aspects of American life," report Laura Meckler and Devlin Barrett.

The sources for this scoop are anonymous "people familiar with the discussions," according to the reporters. While these might be good sources, that does not mean this new will actually come to pass.

But there is also a paper trail, according to the sources:

A recent internal Justice Department memo directed senior civil rights officials to examine how decades-old “disparate impact” regulations might be changed or removed in their areas of expertise, and what the impact might be, according to people familiar with the matter. Similar action is being considered at the Education Department and is underway at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The examples of disparate impact's importance to civil rights is rife with examples from the built environment—from housing in New York to transportation planning in Maryland.

"The Trump administration signaled its hostility to this approach in a report issued last month by the Federal Commission on School Safety," according to the article. Planetizen readers will also recall that the Trump administration has already taken steps to weaken the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing Rule, enacted by the Obama administration after the Supreme Court's disparate impact decision.

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Published on Thursday, January 3, 2019 in The Washington Post
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