The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearing arguments on January 21 on whether or not "disparate impact" claims are allowed under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in the case of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. the Inclusive Community Project. For years, lower courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of groups bringing disparate impact claims, which are allegations made based on neutral practices that may have a discriminatory effect.
The Obama Administration passed the Disparate Impact Rule for housing in February 2013, which has resulted in several multi-million dollar settlements against lenders such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and others. Opponents of the Disparate Impact Rule claimed a victory in early November 2014 when U.S. District Judge Richard Leon struck down the rule, saying that only claims of direct, intentional discrimination could be made under the Fair Housing Act. Two previous cases involving disparate impact claims were scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, but settled before they reached that point.
Employment data released earlier in the week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics falls right in line with analysts' recent predictions that the housing market will make a comeback in 2015. According to the BLS November 2014 Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment report, unemployment rates declined year-over-year in 341 out of 372 metro areas in the U.S. Reports from economists at CoreLogic and Wells Fargo released in December indicated they believe housing will rebound in 2015 after a disappointing 2014, citing labor market improvements as a main reason why.