Supreme Court takes up challenge to federal housing anti-discrimination law

Associated Press

The Supreme Court is taking up a case involving a powerful legal tactic used to combat housing discrimination.

At issue is the theory that certain housing or lending practices can illegally harm minority groups — even when there's no proof of intent to discriminate.

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The justices on Thursday agreed to hear a Texas case that challenges that theory — known as disparate impact.

In recent years, the court twice agreed to hear similar challenges. But each time, the case was settled weeks before oral argument.

Those settlements cheered civil rights groups that hoped to avoid an adverse ruling from court conservatives.

But the settlements disappointed banks and mortgage companies that believe federal housing laws should punish only intentional acts of discrimination.