Bench Memos

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More on St. Paul’s Abandoning Suit for Fear of Winning


I previously reported on the City of St. Paul’s abandoning of a lawsuit that had reached the Supreme Court, challenging the “disparate impact” standard in the Fair Housing Act. St. Paul dropped its lawsuit, in part, in response to pressure from representatives of the DOJ and many liberal interest groups. The groups worried that the lawsuit would have successfully challenged the “disparate-impact” standard, which allows the Department of Justice to force settlements based upon mere statistical differences, escaping the need to prove actual discriminatory intent. The winnings from these settlements are funneled to liberal special-interest groups, the same groups who were worried about the lawsuit.

The Wall Street Journal had an update yesterday on this controversy that illuminates one more chapter in the politicization of the DOJ. The article explains that Assistant Attorney Thomas Perez, head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division and the driving force behind disparate-impact lawsuits, personally lobbied St. Paul to drop their lawsuit, confirming the connection between the DOJ’s involvement and their desperation to keep the “disparate impact” legal bludgeon. Given how much power Mr. Perez wields as head of the Civil Rights Division, even though no wrongdoing may have occurred, it seems appropriate to at least inquire about what Mr. Perez said to convince St. Paul to drop its suit, which it clearly had a significant chance of winning. The article also details the government’s recent success with federal lending lawsuits: eight lawsuits, eight settlements, and a $350 million in payouts. Many of these payouts were in cases that wielded disparate-impact analysis as a way to ensure a settlement. As the article, worth reading in full, concludes, “another triumph of politics over the law.”


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