• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court reaffirmed the principle that a governmental policy will not be judged unconstitutional solely because it has a disproportionate impact on a particular race.

A nonprofit developer wanted to construct low- and moderate-income housing units in a largely white suburb of Chicago. A major goal of the project was to promote racial integration in the community. The suburb’s board of trustees refused to rezone the region for multiple-family dwellings, thus killing the project. The federal court of appeals ruled that the denial of rezoning violated the Fourteenth Amendment because its “ultimate effect” was discrimination against racial minorities. By a 7-1 vote, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling. Based on the recent precedent, Washington v. Davis[case]Washington v. Davis[Washington v. Davis] (1976), Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr.,Powell, Lewis F., Jr.;Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp.[Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp.] explained that proof of a “racially discriminatory intent” was necessary in order to establish a constitutional violation. From the official minutes and other evidence of the case, Powell concluded that the challengers had “simply failed to carry their burden of showing that discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor in the Village’s decision.”Discrimination, race;Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp.[Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp.]

Equal protection clause

Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.

Race and discrimination

San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez

Washington v. Davis

Zoning

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