05-20-2018  4:42 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

US arrest, raids in Seattle pot probe with China ties

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. authorities have arrested a Seattle woman, conducted raids and seized thousands of marijuana plants in an investigation into what they say is an international black market marijuana operation financed by Chinese money, a newspaper reported Saturday.Authorities are still...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

A royal wedding bridges the Atlantic and breaks old molds

WINDSOR, England (AP) — The son of British royalty and the daughter of middle-class Americans wed Saturday in a service that reflected Prince Harry's royal heritage, Meghan Markle's biracial roots and the pair's shared commitment to putting a more diverse, modern face on the monarchy.British...

First class for Mississippi school after desegregation deal

CLEVELAND, Miss. (AP) — A small Mississippi Delta town whose rival high schools were combined last year under a desegregation settlement has held its first graduation ceremony.No longer Trojans and Wildcats, they're all Wolves now at Cleveland Central High School, whose seniors collected...

ENTERTAINMENT

Reggie Lucas, who worked with Miles Davis and Madonna, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Reggie Lucas, the Grammy-winning musician who played with Miles Davis in the 1970s and produced the bulk of Madonna's debut album, has died. He was 65.The performer's daughter, Lisa Lucas, told The Associated Press that her father died from complications with his heart early...

Broadcast networks go for milk-and-cookies comfort this fall

NEW YORK (AP) — If provocative, psyche-jangling shows like "The Handmaid's Tale" are your taste, head directly to streaming or cable. But if you're feeling the urge for milk-and-cookies comfort, broadcast television wants to help.The upcoming TV season will bring more sitcom nostalgia in the...

Met says it has evidence Levine abused or harassed 7 people

NEW YORK (AP) — The Metropolitan Opera said in court documents Friday that it found credible evidence that conductor James Levine engaged in sexually abusive or harassing conduct with seven people that included inappropriate touching and demands for sex acts over a 25-year period.The Met...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Small clubs cross fingers for World Cup windfalls

TORCY, France (AP) — The ideal scenario for the club where Paul Pogba played football as a kid might go...

On time, on target: LeBron, Cavs pound Celtics in Game 3

CLEVELAND (AP) — Before taking the floor, LeBron James stood in the hallway with his teammates outside...

US, China agree to cut American trade deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China have agreed to take measures to "substantially reduce"...

Insect ambassadors: Honeybees buzz on Berlin cathedral

BERLIN (AP) — On the roof of Berlin's cathedral, bees are buzzing.Beekeeper Uwe Marth pulls out a honeycomb...

Love and fire: Text of Michael Curry's royal wedding address

WINDSOR, England (AP) — And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and...

Episcopal bishop Curry gives royal wedding an American flair

WINDSOR, England (AP) — Nothing quite captured the trans-Atlantic nature of Saturday's royal wedding as...

Interns run across the plaza of the Supreme Court in Washington
Sam Hananel, Associated Press

The Supreme Court handed a surprising victory to the Obama administration and civil rights groups on Thursday when it upheld a key tool used for more than four decades to fight housing discrimination.

The justices ruled 5-4 that federal housing laws prohibit seemingly neutral practices that harm minorities, even without proof of intentional discrimination.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a swing vote, joined the court's four liberal members in upholding the use of so-called "disparate impact" cases.

The ruling is a win for housing advocates who argued that the 1968 Fair Housing Act allows challenges to race-neutral policies that have a negative impact on minority groups. The Justice Department has used disparate impact lawsuits to win more than $500 million in legal settlements from companies accused of bias against black and Hispanic customers.

In upholding the tactic, the Supreme Court preserved a legal strategy that has been used for more than 40 years to attack discrimination in zoning laws, occupancy rules, mortgage lending practices and insurance underwriting. Every federal appeals court to consider it has upheld the practice, though the Supreme Court had never previously ruled.

Civil rights groups had tried years to keep the issue out of the Supreme Court, fearing that conservatives would end the strategy.

Writing for the majority, Kennedy said language in the housing law banning discrimination "because of race" allows for disparate impact cases. He said such lawsuits "may prevent segregated housing patterns that might otherwise result from covert and illicit stereotyping."

"The court acknowledges the Fair Housing Act's continuing role in moving the nation toward a more integrated society," Kennedy said.

Kennedy was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The ruling is a defeat for banks, insurance companies and other business groups that claimed such lawsuits — often based on statistics — are not explicitly allowed under the landmark housing law that sought to eliminate segregation that has long existed in residential housing.

Business groups complained that using disparate impact to expose every decision to legal challenge is unfair if those practices are based on sound underwriting and compliance with federal regulations.

In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito said disparate impact was not specifically allowed in the text of the housing law. He warned that the tactic can also result in perverse outcomes, such as a recent Minnesota case where a landlord claimed a city's efforts to make him combat rat infestation and unsanitary conditions in low income housing would cause an increase in rent.

"Something has gone badly awry when a city can't even make slumlords kill rats without fear of a lawsuit," Alito said.

Alito was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

The case involved an appeal from Texas officials accused of violating the Fair Housing Act by awarding federal tax credits in a way that kept low-income housing out of white neighborhoods.

A Dallas-based fair housing group, Inclusive Communities Project Inc., said that even if there was no motive to discriminate, the government's policies still harmed black residents. The effect, the group claimed, was perpetuating segregated neighborhoods and denying blacks a chance to move into areas with better schools and lower crime.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals in Texas said the group could use statistics to show that the effect of policies used by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had a negative impact on black residents.

Texas officials appealed, saying it was unfair to have to justify or change policies that don't facially discriminate. While disparate impact has been used routinely in employment discrimination cases, they said such claims were not expressly written into the housing law. They argued that allowing them would essentially force them to make race-conscious decisions to avoid liability.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said disparate impact remains "an all-too-necessary mechanism for rooting out discrimination in housing and lending."

"Bolstered by this important ruling, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act with every tool at its disposal - including challenges based on unfair and unacceptable discriminatory effects."

Both the Obama administration and civil rights groups have tried for years to keep the issue away from the Supreme Court, fearing that conservative justices wanted to end the use of disparate impact lawsuits in housing cases. In fact, two similar cases out of Minnesota and New Jersey previously had reached the court in recent years, but those cases were settled or strategically withdrawn just weeks before oral argument.

Yet the court took up the Texas case last year despite the fact that there was no split among lower courts over the issue. That led to major worries for the NAACP and other civil rights groups that the court was prepared to end the strategy.

In one recent disparate impact case, Wells Fargo agreed in 2012 to pay $175 million to settle charges that its independent brokers charged higher fees and rates to black and Hispanic borrowers than whites who had similar credit scores. The Justice Department also accused the lender of steering minorities into risky subprime mortgages more often than whites.

Like most disparate impact cases, the allegations in the Wells Fargo case were based on statistical data rather than any proof of intentional discrimination. Wells Fargo agreed to settle the case without admitting any wrongdoing. A similar case against Bank of America in 2011 netted a record $335 million settlement.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of NAACP Legal Defense Fund, told reporters outside the court that the housing law was critical in bridging the nation's racial divide, especially in light of the shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

"Anyone who has been paying attention in the last week knows that we can no longer afford to live the way we have as two separate bifurcated parts of this country," Ifill said.

 

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Associated Press writer Connie Cass contributed to this report.

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