Editorial: Defending a needed civil-rights principle

  • Article by: EDITORIAL BOARD
  • Updated: October 8, 2012 - 6:41 AM

St. Paul case highlights proper use of 'disparate impact.'

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davehougOct. 7, 12 9:43 PM

Fair treatment is wanted by all. But what of race-blind rules / policies that impact blacks and other minorities more because of other factors???? One single threshold in fire-fighter trainee scores blocks those with low scores and has a 'disparate impact' unintentionally......SOOOOOO what should happen in cases like that? If banks rank by race-blind numerical score that denies loans to poor risks....but that impacts minorities more, should anything be changed????

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stpauloldiesOct. 8, 12 4:42 PM

"The landlords' twisted application of the disparate-impact concept violates the spirit and intent of the original law. It implies that poor people must tolerate substandard, code-violating housing in order to have housing at all. Authors of the Fair Housing Act never intended to have antidiscrimination rules used to excuse landlords from following basic housing codes." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I don't agree with the above assessment at all. It doesn't mean minorities have to tolerate substandard housing. I take it to mean that the housing codes are so ridiculously high and burdensome, that keeping them up to that unnecessary level will force them to invest so much into the properties that they will then have to charge rent that minorities cannot afford. Therefore, it is the CODES that are causing the disparate impact on minorities, not the landlords.

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stpauloldiesOct. 8, 12 4:47 PM

"SOOOOOO what should happen in cases like that? If banks rank by race-blind numerical score that denies loans to poor risks....but that impacts minorities more, should anything be changed????" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Exactly. If only a tiny fraction of women can pass the firefighter physical test, should they let more women in anyway?? If women are over-represented in law school admissions based on higher scores, shouldn't they take more men with lower scores to be fair??

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owatonnabillOct. 8, 12 5:40 PM

"Therefore, it is the CODES that are causing the disparate impact on minorities, not the landlords." .................... True words. Sometimes the effect of a law is the precise opposite of it's intent. I recall awhile back in some January or other that a certain homeless shelter didn't measure up to some arcane code or something (nothing dangerous as I recall). The city in question forbade the shelter to house homeless people until the code was met. People who otherwise would have been sheltered were forced to sleep outside and endure far greater risk by so doing than the broken code would have subjected them to had the shelter been allowed to house them. Not quite the same thing, I know, but close. Sometimes we end up cutting off our nose to spite our face.

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