Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Driving toward a more equal, just America?

The wheels that grind this country's racist ways have to come to an end.   Over the last days and weeks America has started to see the country move in that direction.   From discussions over whether or not the Confederate flag that flies at the state capital in South Carolina is a sign of racial hatred, prompting its removal, to fighting disparities in housing, healthcare, and same-sex marriage.

Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that disparate-impact standard has worked to combat systemic discrimination in the case of  Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project Inc.  (See Supreme Court Syllabus here).

America, the equal?  A flag symbolizing equality flies in front of the Supreme Court.

Under the Fair Housing Authority, "it is unlawful to refuse to sell, rent or otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to a person because of race, or other protected characteristic."

Attorney General Loretta Lynch weighing in on the court's decision said, "“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has affirmed that the Fair Housing Act encompasses disparate impact claims, which are an essential tool for realizing the Act’s promise of fair and open access to housing opportunities for all Americans.  While our nation has made tremendous progress since the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, disparate impact claims remain an all-too-necessary mechanism for rooting out discrimination in housing and lending."  

Said Justice Anthony Kennedy, “Much progress remains to be made in our Nation’s continuing struggle against racial isolation. In striving to achieve our historic commitment to creating an society we must remain wary of policies that reduce homeowners to nothing more than their race.

The ICP brought a disparate-impact claim under §§804(a) and 805(a) of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), alleging that the Department and its officers had caused continued segregated housing patterns by allocating too many tax credits to housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods.

In a statement Thursday, HUD Secretary Julián Castro wrote, “Today is another important step in the long march toward fulfilling one of our nation’s founding ideals: equal opportunity for all Americans.  The Supreme Court has made it clear that HUD can continue to use this critical tool to eliminate the unfair barriers that have deferred and derailed too many dreams.  Working with our partners on the ground, we will continue to do all we can to build a housing market that treats all Americans with basic dignity and respect.”

Also Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.   Congress had tried numerous times to vote it down and presidential candidates ran on the platform of either vowing to repeal or replace Obamacare.

Speaker John Boehner on Thursday all but said the fight to repeal the ACA is all but over saying, "This [the ruling] changes nothing."

Clearly, this week has found some justice in battles for justice and equality.  As Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

In other news on moving toward equality, on Friday, in a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states.  Gay couples now have the same legal rights as other married couples.

Supporters call the ruling "historic" and President Obama's Twitter account is trending with "#LoveWins".  The president spoke Friday in the White House Rose Garden where he said:

A married gay couple stroll
hand-in-hand.  Photo/CD Brown.
"Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens.  And then sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt." 

No word on whether Congress plans to devote the same negative energy to repeal or replace Friday's same-sex ruling as they have opposing healthcare for all Americans.

The Supreme Court did in one (1) week what Congress and the administration has been trying to get done in nearly seven years.

Perhaps one day America will even rejoice in like terms over monetary reparations for African Americans.

Maybe it is "SCOTUScare"; then again it may just be that the "hope" and "change" Americans were promised is coming to fruition, incremently small.

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