Do you remember back in April when the Obama administration informed landlords across America that the refusal to rent to ex-felons who happen to be a minority–specifically blacks and Hispanics–could result in federal charges of racial discrimination?
While the federal Fair Housing Act doesn’t mention criminals as a protected class, the guidelines released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that citing the criminal record of a potential renter as cause to deny rent is oftentimes a form of racial discrimination, as seen in this excerpt:
The Fair Housing Act prohibits both intentional housing discrimination and housing practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect because of race, national origin, or other protected characteristics.
Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African-Americans and Hispanics.
While the act does not prohibit housing providers from appropriately considering criminal history information when making housing decisions, arbitrary and over-broad criminal history-related bans are likely to lack a legally sufficient justification.
Translation? You can screen potential renters for a criminal history, and you can deny their application if they have one, unless they are black or Hispanic. Denying those applicants will likely result in a federal lawsuit.
I find it hilarious that HUD Secretary Julian Castro fails to see the irony in his reasoning. He condemns the actions of the landlord as “arbitrary and over-broad” if they deny a minority application, yet he is being “arbitrary and over-broad” by lumping those landlords together into one big racist ball.
Now, why am I sharing a news story from a month ago? Because we are about to embark on the next mile down the road to Hell–you know, the road paved with good intentions–as we see in this Washington Post story about four Latino families who are suing the owner of the Waples Mobile Home Park in Fairfax, Virginia (a suburb of Washington D.C.).
Attorneys for the families are alleging that the requirement for all tenants to have a Social Security card, visa and related documents or a passport is discriminatory because it disproportionately affects Latinos. Similar policies imposed by cities and counties across the country have been overturned in federal courts but few, if any, suits have been filed against private landlords, the attorneys said.
“This type of discrimination is all too common, but the law is unfortunately far from clear,” said Ivy Finkenstadt, managing attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) which is representing the families along with the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. “We are hoping that the federal court in Alexandria will take it one step further and prohibit this practice by a private landlord as well.”
Do you know what else it does? It makes it harder for illegal aliens to hide from authorities. But then, that’s really the heart of the matter, isn’t it?
By the way, are you wondering what law are they using to support their accusation? Would you believe… the Fair Housing Act?
The suit claims that this policy is a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, the Virginia Fair Housing law and is intentionally discriminatory of non-U.S. citizens. One of the families says they have already had to leave their home in the park. “I have been sick from the stress of what happened at Waples,” says former tenant Rosy Giron de Reyes in a statement from LAJC.
In his book The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposeful Social Action, Robert K. Merton warned of the unintended consequences resulting from large-scale government actions. It looks like Obama would be a perfect case study.
The action? Use new interpretations of the law to provide special rights for criminals in the name of so-called fairness. The unintended consequence? The destruction of American culture, morality and constitutional liberty.
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David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative, your source for opinion that’s politically-incorrect and always “right.” David is also a contributor to RedState.com.
His daily commentary is nationally syndicated via Salem Radio Network.