Fair housing advocates will note the article headlined "Disparate-Impact Theory Gains Favor at Justice," in the March Fair Housing-Fair Lending Bulletin from Prentice Hall. The article quoted Penda Hair of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund as saying, "Considering the favorable treatment accorded the disparate-impact theory by Cisneros and the federal appeals courts, the Justice Department is really the last actor to come on board."
Ms. Hair said Reno's policy shift "will have a tremendous practical impact" because intent is very difficult to prove in housing discrimination cases. She said the disparate-impact theory provides "a way to hold defendants liable for the results of their conduct," particularly if they have no business justification for the challenged policies and even if the evidence includes no "smoking gun." For more information see articles on disparate-impact on pages 2 and 3 of the January/February ADVOCATE.