Supreme Court's Apparent Refusal to Impose Affirmative Duty on Local Housing Officials in Racial Discrimination Cases
Examines the Supreme Court case, Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Hous. Dev. Corp. In this case, the plaintiffs alleged that the denial of a rezoning permit for a proposed moderate and low income housing development was racially discriminatory and in violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment as well as the Fair Housing Act. The district court found that the Village's refusal to rezone was motivated by a legitimate desire to maintain the "integrity of the Village's zoning plan" and therefore held the denial was not an arbitrary and capricious act in violation of the fourteenth amendment. The Seventh Circuit court found that the administration of the zoning policy was not racially discriminatory but that the effect of the denial was racially discriminatory and that the Village had an affirmative duty to alleviate the discriminatory effect. Then the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals, remanded the case, and held that regardless of the discriminatory effect of state action one must further prove that a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor for the action in order to show a violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment.