The Fair Housing Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act have had measurable success in providing opportunities to address intentional discrimination in housing and voting contexts. Plaintiffs with evidence of direct illegalities have clear frameworks under which justice may be sought, and both Acts provide a path for relief upon violations of housing and voting rights because of one’s membership in a protected class. However, the disparate impact theories that are cognizable under both Acts have been scrutinized for lackluster results. Practitioners and academicians have written about and experienced the difficulties plaintiffs face in successfully proving that a particular housing practice or policy is the cause of specific discriminatory outcomes, given the interrelated factors that give rise to segregation. Similarly, the gutting of the preclearance requirements in the Voting Rights Act, coupled with the onslaught of voter suppression legislation in the last few years, create obstacles to satisfy the complicated “totality of the circumstances” test required to evidence disparate impact under the Voting Rights Act. In addition to critiquing the limits of each Act, this Article explains how racial disparities in poverty and health are exacerbated by these limitations. Systems and individuals seeking to exploit people of color through oppressive housing and voting laws rely on the failure of the Fair Housing Act and Voting Rights Act to eradicate segregation, with determinants in each sphere perpetuating the discrimination within the other. The Article sets forth federal action that can be taken to mitigate these inequities.
Courtney L. Anderson,
Post-Pandemic, but Not Post-Racial,
St. Louis U. J. Health L. & Pol'y
Available at: https://scholarship.law.slu.edu/jhlp/vol15/iss2/3