Black Conservatives React to U.S. Supreme Court Decision for Use of “Disparate Impact” in Administration of Fair Housing Act

For Immediate Release: June 25, 2015

Contact: Judy Kent at (703) 759 7476 or jkent@nationalcenter.org or Amy Ridenour at (202) 543-4110 or aridenour@nationalcenter.org

Washington, D.C. — Legal and policy experts with the Project 21 black leadership network are available for comment on today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows perceived group racial disparities to be used as a trigger for enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.

http://nationalcenter.org/P21Index.html

“When those statistical differences alone are used as proof of discrimination, freedom and liberty are lost; but worse the constitutional protections provided to every American as an individual are lost too,” said Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper, a legal commentator who taught constitutional law at George Mason University and is a former leadership staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives.

http://www.nationalcenter.org/bios/P21Speakers_Cooper.html

“It’s a shame that the majority of justices are willing to allow allegations of discrimination in housing to be painted using a broad brush — sometimes by those who may not even be among the aggrieved — rather than finding and cutting out true instances of abuse with scalpel-like precision,” said Archbishop Council Nedd II, Ph.D., author of multiple books and rector of St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Pine Grove Mills, PA. “The Fair Housing Act was meant to be a scalpel, but the Court has now decided otherwise to our peril. Society is served better by a system that removes specific problems rather than pitting groups against each other.”

http://www.nationalcenter.org/bios/P21Speakers_Nedd.html

On appeal from the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the case of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, et al. v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc, addressed a festering legal problem regarding the Fair Housing Act’s use to address accusations of disparate racial impact instead of enforcing the law on a case-by-case, as-needed basis as was argued by its supporters when it was debated in Congress.

Specific to this case, the Inclusive Communities Project (ICP) claimed the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, a state agency, violated the federal Fair Housing Act by allocating housing tax credits to developers in a manner that they alleged broadly kept minorities in low-income minority-majority neighborhoods rather than allowing access to housing opportunities in wealthier majority-white communities in the Dallas metropolitan area. ICP charged the department’s tax credit distribution policy creates a disparate impact on black recipients of such credits as a class rather than addressing individual instances of alleged abuse.

Project 21 joined a legal brief submitted to the Court that asked the justices to specifically define the legal scope of the Fair Housing Act. In the brief, it was argued that the Act was written “to apply solely to disparate treatment, not acts having disparate impact on protected classes” and that the U.S. Supreme Court must “consider the threshold question of whether disparate impact claims are even cognizable under the Fair Housing Act” since “disparate impact claims do not depend on the intent of the action or policy.”

This legal brief joined by Project 21 was written and submitted to the Court by the Pacific Legal Foundation and was also joined by the Center for Equal Opportunity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Individual Rights Foundation and Reason Foundation.

Click to access PLF-AC-BRIEF-TEXAS.pdf

In 2014 and 2015, Project 21 members have already been interviewed or cited by the media over 2,600 times — including TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News Channel, Westwood One, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM satellite radio and 50,000-watt talk radio stations such as KOA-Denver, WHO-Des Moines, WJR-Detroit, WBZ-Boston and KDKA-Pittsburgh — on issues that include civil rights, entitlement programs, the economy, race preferences, education and corporate social responsibility. Project 21 has participated in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race preferences and voting rights and defended voter ID laws at the United Nations. Its volunteer members come from all walks of life and are not salaried political professionals.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).

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Does America Hate God? People Sound Off

I have written a book called Does America Hate God? Faith Under Fire. I posed a question to an interesting cross section of people. I asked the question, does America hate God? Following are some of the initial responses.

“… America has forgotten the values it was created on. It has been distorted and manipulated into what certain groups want it to be. We forget that by freedom of religion, it’s that we are not forced into believing one versus another, not the absence of religion or God. America does not hate God, but it is definitely afraid to stand up for Him. Tiptoeing around Him, not having Him in schools or government places, that’s not freedom. And the media certainly does not help. They pick and chose what chaos to report and what not to… And there is so much more…”  Dana Tiegen — a mother of three from Marion, Iowa

“No one hates God, they simply cannot see what God has done for them and America doesn’t really differ from other countries, as far as I’m concerned. People everywhere are trying to rely on someone or blame him for their losses. It is often said that Americans are not that religious but through my journey, the people I’ve met, they are as religious as they are kind…”  Violet Hejazi — a young Christian Syrian refugee who has settled in Scotland via the UAE, Yemen and Egypt.

“No America doesn’t hate God. That’s just the nonsense that Fox News is peddling. God IS still in public school, our military, etc…”  Tamatha Cho — a stay-at-home mother of five and wife of a retired USMC officer from Maryland.

“I first read that as “Does God hate America?” And then I read some responses. No, either way. I don’t think Americans hate God. Unfortunately there are so many Christians who, trying to be tolerant, allow other voices to dominate. Between the agnostics and non-Christians, one might think we are a secular society without regard for God and biblical values. There is still a large Christian sector in this country and we love God. Most of us are praying daily for God to save us and for our leaders to be inspired and guided by God.”  Sue MacKinnon — a retired Army nurse from Jacksonville, Florida.

A Woman on the $20 Bill? Make Her an Entrepreneur

by David W. Almasi

There’s a campaign underway to remove President Andrew Jackson’s face from the $20 bill and replace it with a woman as a way of “promoting gender equality.”

The group Women on 20s wants Jackson’s portrait removed in time for the 2020 centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. They also, of course, want to “make our money more egalitarian, inclusive and an affirmation of American values.”

This group, however, doesn’t just want any woman. They want a woman of their own choosing. They will send President Barack Obama the specific woman they think should grace a future $20 bill. Civil rights icon Rosa Parks, abolitionist Harriet Tubman and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt were selected through an online vote from their 15 top choices. A fourth, Wilma Mankiller, the first female elected as a Native American tribal leader, was added “by popular demand” and as an obvious statement about the harsh Native American policies during the Jackson presidency.

All of these candidates share the distinction of being feminist icons, well-known historical figures or both. If this must be done at all, why not make a bold choice — one that’s free of a political agenda?

Since it’s money, how about having the first woman immortalized on paper currency be the first female self-made millionaire in American history?

Madam C.J. Walker is that woman, and her inspiring story makes her an ideal candidate.

Born on a Louisiana plantation in 1867 to newly-freed slaves, the future Madam Walker was an orphan by the age of seven and hard at work in the cotton fields. Her situation improved only slightly after moving to St. Louis, where she made just $1.50 a day doing laundry and cooking meals.

This drudgery led to her losing her hair and discovering a cosmetic product that helped her grow it back. She got a job selling the product to others, and later started her own company to market her own similar product. Walker’s “Wonderful Hair Grower” grew from a product sold door-to-door to being offered in mail-order catalogs. It eventually became the flagship for a whole line of beauty products targeted toward the black community.

Walker persevered in a male-dominated era where separate-but-equal Jim Crow discrimination was the law of the land. She saw how other businesses ignored black customers, and she stepped in to fill the void and became a success.

At the same time, she created jobs and new wealth in the black American community. She founded institutions that educated tens of thousands of “Walker Agents” and built factories to make her products. In 1914, Walker told the National Negro Business League: “I am not merely satisfied in making money for myself, for I am endeavoring to provide employment for hundreds of women of my race.”

She also wasn’t stingy. Her philanthropic efforts built homes for the elderly, funded scholarships and helped build the YMCA in Indianapolis. Her inheritance helped foster the famed Harlem Renaissance.

She funded the newly-formed NAACP and National Conference on Lynching — lobbying President Woodrow Wilson herself late in her life to promote a federal ban on lynching.

The memories of Tubman, Parks and Roosevelt are already immortalized in statues, awards, street and highway names and buildings. Rosa Parks even has an asteroid named for her! Madam C.J. Walker was on a postage stamp in 1998, but all of the others, with the exception of Mankiller (who died in 2010), similarly had stamps issued in their honor.

Rather than just pushing a name people already know, making Madam C.J. Walker the new face of the $20 bill would be an inspired choice. It would honor a clever entrepreneur, job creator and philanthropist. It doesn’t simply fulfill a political agenda and potentially foster division.

Madam C.J. Walker is someone everyone should admire and a fine candidate to represent American women on our currency.

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David W. Almasi is Executive Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org .

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.