Statement of the National Fair Housing Alliance in Response to Trump’s SCOTUS Pick

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 26, 2020

Contact: Izzy Woodruff | 202-898-1661 | IWoodruff@nationalfairhousing.org

Statement of the National Fair Housing Alliance in Response to Trump’s SCOTUS Pick

Washington, D.C. — Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court:

“President Trump’s and Senator McConnell’s decision to hastily fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat when the 2020 elections have already begun undermines our nation’s democracy and represents the height of hypocrisy and political gamesmanship. If the process continues, it will lessen the respect and integrity of the highest court in the nation. Americans are already taking to the polls to select the next president and it is that person who must decide the nominee to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. Decades of standards and precedent make it clear. There should be no confirmation until after the inauguration. Yet most Republicans in the Senate have indicated that they will vote on Trump’s nominee, a shocking reversal from the party’s stance on Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, Merrick Garland, who was put forward eight months before the 2016 election.

“Trump has made it abundantly clear why he’s going against precedent to ram through this SCOTUS vote. It is a brazen overreach of power, for this purpose: He wants to stack the Supreme Court with justices who are beholden to him — not the American people — and will support him should the Court be called on to decide issues regarding the election. His statements that he will not commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses prompted the Senate to pass a resolution reaffirming its commitment to a peaceful transition of power. But Trump’s statement should have also spurred senators to rebuff his power grab by refusing to process the nomination during an election.

“Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish was to ‘not be replaced until a new president is installed,’ and the majority of Americans share that sentiment. The hypocrisy of rushing through a nominee now is troubling enough, but Coney Barrett’s record as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit raises concerns about her commitment to ensuring equal justice under law.

“In the 2019 case Dale Kleber v. CareFusion Corporation, Coney Barrett voted to dismiss a disparate impact claim by a job applicant under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act on the basis that the law did not protect disparate impact claims by job applicants, just employees. The opinion which Coney Barrett joined ignored long-standing precedent on disparate impact. Her decision in this instance presents a troubling clue about how she might rule on disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. Her decision also disturbingly comports with a stance the Trump administration has taken in its newly released Disparate Impact rule which guts a long-standing civil rights protection and provides special defenses from disparate impact scrutiny — including algorithmic bias. The new exemption in the rule makes it irrelevant whether predictive tools unnecessarily exclude applicants of color, women, or other groups protected by the Fair Housing Act.

“Given Trump’s broad-based attacks on civil rights, the last thing the country needs is a Supreme Court justice who has demonstrated she might fail to uphold important laws put in place to advance equal opportunity. Our country needs a civil rights champion like Justice Ginsburg who joined the 5-4 majority in Texas Dept. of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project in 2015 to rule that disparate impact claims are allowed under the Fair Housing Act.

“In Republicans’ haste to confirm Coney Barrett before Nov. 3, they are acting contrary to their stance to block President Obama from filling Justice Scalia’s seat for almost 12 months, enabling Trump’s political overreach, and dishonoring Justice Ginsburg’s legacy. If successful, their actions could devastate civil rights progress for decades to come, making it more difficult to not only fight discrimination in housing, lending, and employment, but to address it in education, healthcare, the environment, transportation, and the criminal justice system. We cannot let that happen. We must uphold and fight for our democracy. And we must fight for fairness in the solemn process to select those who serve on the highest court in the land.”

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About The National Fair Housing Alliance

Founded in 1988, NFHA is a consortium of more than 200 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations and state and local civil rights agencies from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NFHA works to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through leadership, education, outreach, membership services, public policy initiatives, community development, advocacy, and enforcement.

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