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Magner v. Gallagher (appeal withdrawn)

In late 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal challenging the long-accepted interpretation that the Fair Housing Act can be used to challenge government and private policies that have a “disparate impact” based on race, disability, or other protected classification under the Act – without any proof of discriminatory “intent”. The disparate impact standard has been accepted by every Court of Appeals over the last 30+ years, but was called into question in this appeal. The case involved a racial impact claim filed by a group of landlords who objected to the City of St. Paul’s code enforcement policies.

In February of 2012, the Mayor and City of St. Paul (appellants in the case) made an unusual – and courageous –decision to withdraw the appeal, after weighing the potential long term national harm to civil rights that could result from a decision in their favor. Instead of pursuing the appeal in the Supreme Court, the city will now seek dismissal of the case in the trial court.

Along with other civil rights and housing groups, PRRAC participated in a wide ranging friend-of-the-court campaign to support the position of the plaintiffs in Magner, and to preserve the disparate impact standard. The U.S. Solicitor General also weighed in supporting the current standard.

Although the case is no longer pending, these briefs are an important resource on the disparate impact standard, and its importance in civil rights jurisprudence.

Decision below

Brief of Petitioners

Brief of Respondents

Amicus Brief of the U.S. Solicitor General

Amicus Brief of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Amicus Brief of the Opportunity Agenda, PRRAC, Public Advocates, the Equal Justice Society,
the Kirwan Institute, and Professor Michelle Adams

Amicus Brief of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (and other civil rights groups)

Amicus Brief of Former HUD Officials

Amicus Brief of the National Fair Housing Alliance et al

Amicus Brief of the ACLU et al

Amicus Brief of twelve state attorney generals

[Other amicus briefs can be accessed at]



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