The Supreme Court on Monday affirmed 6-3 a ruling that forces the town of Huntington, N.Y., to change its zoning so a low-income housing project can be built in a predominantly white neighborhood.
In a brief ruling, the court refused to review the decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ordered the town to rezone the area, but nonetheless upheld it."Without endorsing the precise analysis of the court of appeals, we are satisified on this record that the disparate impact was shown, and that the sole justificiation proffered to rebut the case was inadequate," the court said in the unsigned opinion.
Justices Byron White, Thurgood Marshall and John Paul Stevens dissented and noted the case should have been given a full hearing with oral arguments.
At issue in the complex and drawn-out housing case, which had already made one trip to the Supreme Court, was what standard of proof is sufficient to prove violations of the Fair Housing Act.
One standard, which is a tougher one to meet, is known in legal circles as disparate treatment, and those bringing suit must prove the city actually intended to discriminate against minorities.
The other standard, disparate impact, needs only a showing that the actions of the city, such as limiting low-income housing to a certain area of a city, has a discriminatory effect on minorities. The burden then falls on the city to prove it has a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for its action.
The issue and the case have drawn the attention of the federal government, which urged the court to decide the issue.
"Indeed, we believe that the court below, and the other courts of appeals that have addressed the issue, have erred in holding that a showing of discriminatory effect will suffice," the government said in legal documents filed in the case.
However, the Supreme Court refused to reach that issue Monday, specifically stating, "We do not reach the question whether that test is the appropriate one."
In other action, the court:
-Agreed to decide the constitutionality of laws presuming that drivers who fail to return rental cars on time are thieves. The case involves a California manwho was arrested for car theft when he kept a rental car more than a month and ahalf after his lease agreement expired.
-Will decide if a defendant has a right to pay legal fees out of assets that have been frozen under criminal forfeiture laws. The court will consider the issue in two different cases, one brought by the government and the other by the law firm Caplin & Drysdale.
-Overruling objections from former asbestos manufacturers, left intact federal rules governing the inspection and removal of asbestos from public schools.
-Rejected an appeal by a North Dakota couple charged with truancy for educating their son at home in accord with their religious principles. The court, without comment, let stand a ruling that reinstated the charges.
881107 COURTUP EMMIE ;11/07,15:01 1 WASHINGTON (UPI)
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