FEMA’s advisory flood maps are now available for all parts of Staten Island;
FEMA’s advisory flood maps are now available for all parts of Staten Island;
A major goal of President Obama’s second term is to use the brute force of government to reduce inequality. This played out in the struggle over tax increases, but the Obama bureaucracies will do the most to implement this vision. Exhibit A is the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new rule to impose race-based criteria on virtually all new U.S. housing.
HUD this month finalized a rule that interprets the 1968 Fair Housing Act to allow the use of “disparate impact” to determine if private housing projects violate the racial provisions of the 1968 law. Disparate impact is a kind of statistical analysis that doesn’t require a showing of discriminatory intent to prove illegal discrimination. The change sought by HUD would vastly inflate and formalize government’s ability to socially engineer American neighborhoods.
Clearly no lender, developer, landlord or other housing provider wants to be sued for racism. In the Obama Administration’s first term, the Department of Justice threatened Fair Housing Act lawsuits against several banks. The banks quickly consented to monetary settlements, though Justice did not accuse them of intentional discrimination.
HUD replies that it has “long interpreted” the Fair Housing Act to allow for disparate impact. But then why hasn’t the agency formalized this interpretation over four decades? The answer is that HUD is almost certainly overstepping the law’s authority and intent. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination “because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” That language implies an explicit intent to discriminate, rather than a result based on a statistical analysis that claims to find a racist pattern in the random decisions made by thousands of individual builders and homebuyers.
HUD argues that “eleven federal courts of appeals” agree with the agency’s interpretation, though the Supreme Court has never ruled on whether disparate impact is allowed under the Fair Housing Act. The Justices were preparing to hear such a challenge last year in Magner v. Gallagher , but HUD and the Justice Department convinced the city of Saint Paul, Minnesota to withdraw the case. The ProPublica website recently quoted deputy assistant secretary Sara Pratt as explaining HUD’s St. Paul lobbying by saying that “we were afraid we might lose disparate impact in the Supreme Court because there wasn’t a regulation.”
But now a similar case, Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, has been appealed to the Supreme Court, which will decide whether to hear it this spring. HUD, not so coincidentally, has pushed out its final rule after all these years in what is no doubt a bid to sway the Justices to defer to the agency’s rule-making.
There’s much to dispute in this new rule, which makes it all but impossible to defend against disparate-impact claims. The accused must prove nothing they do “actually or predictably results in a disparate impact” or “creates, increases, reinforces, or perpetuates segregated housing patterns because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” This is a field day of variables for a HUD statistician determined to discover racism.
HUD is so confident of its legal standing that the agency didn’t bother to do a cost-benefit analysis and says the rule “adds no additional costs to housing providers and others engaged in housing transactions.”
Seriously? Lenders, landlords, insurers and everyone else in the housing industry now has to weigh every decision through the eyes of HUD’s disparate-impact police. This won’t raise compliance and legal costs? It’s likely that the new HUD rule will reduce the supply of new affordable housing, as builders back away from projects vulnerable to federal litigators.
The nominal purpose of this kind of regulatory aggression in the second Obama term will be described as racial progress. The more likely result will be to disrupt the real progress the U.S. has made.
If you ever testify in court, you might wish you could have been as sharp as this policeman. He was being cross-examined by a defense attorney during a felony trial. The lawyer was trying to undermine the police officer’s credibility ..
Q: ‘Officer — did you see my client fleeing the scene?’
A: ‘No sir. But I subsequently observed a person matching the description of the offender, running several blocks away.’
Q: ‘Officer, who provided this description?’
A: ‘The officer who responded to the scene.’
Q: ‘A fellow officer provided the description of this so-called offender. Do you trust your fellow officers?’
A: ‘Yes, sir. With my life.’
Q: ‘With your life? Let me ask you this then officer. Do you have a room where you change your clothes in preparation for your daily duties?’
A: ‘Yes sir, we do!’
Q: ‘And do you have a locker in the room?’
A: ‘Yes, sir, I do.’
Q: ‘And do you have a lock on your locker?’
A: ‘Yes, sir.’
Q: ‘Now, why is it, officer, if you trust your fellow officers with your life, you find it necessary to lock your locker in a room you share with these same officers?’
A: ‘You see, sir, we share the building with the court complex, and sometimes lawyers have been known to walk through that room.’
The courtroom EXPLODED with laughter, and a prompt recess was called.
Sgt. Jeanne Woods
We give up Christmas mornings with our kids for you. We stand out in the freezing rain directing traffic so you can get home. We deliver your babies for you. We stand sentry on cold lonely nights so you remain safe. We chase perps across rooftops and down long city blocks for you. We find your lost children, pull you out of wrecked cars, and investigate those open doors for you.
We find the people that hurt you. We get hurt, ourselves, defending you. We stand and tell your families when you won’t be coming home. We mourn your dead with you. We jump into cold frigid waters to save you, guard your shattered homes after storms as our own are destroyed too, and ring in every New Year with you.
We spend sleepless nights investigating crimes for you. We shed tears at the atrocities of man against you. We help old ladies across the street. We take guns away from bad guys for you. We protect your children at school. We deal with your crazy neighbors for you.
We watch, ever vigilant, to protect this city from another attack against us, against you.
We are often scorned, constantly criticized, and frequently hated. We suffer bad parodies and donut jokes, second guessing and ignorance. But we soldier on, and enforce the law because we believe in doing what’s right. For the city, for you.
We would take a bullet for you. We DO take bullets for you.
We sometimes die for you.
And when we do, we stand in a long blue line, and mourn for our brother, for ourselves, for a violation of the deepest sort. Killing the protectors kills part of America, as that old poem goes. Killing me is one thing. Killing me as I am trying to keep you safe is another thing entirely, and is the very reason that the charge of Murder 1 exists.
We are the first line of defense, but we need support. So when we catch the one that broke all rules of humanity, and we turn him over to the legal system that we worked so hard to maintain, we trust that the prosecutors will follow through. We trust that 12 other people will follow through. We trust that the public will understand why murdering a Police Officer is an atrocity against humankind, and serve justice according to the letter of the law.
We would do it for you.
PO Peter Figoski would have done it for you, DID do it for you, but that jury in Brooklyn didn’t serve him the way he served them for 22 years. Peter Figoski was murdered by Lamont Pride, and let down by those 12 jurors, leaving the rest of us to carry his memory, for his daughters, for the city, for you.