Tenth amendment

Township of Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Garden Citizens in Action, Inc.

Issues: 

Can disparate impact claims be brought under Section 804(a) of the Fair Housing Act absent any evidence of intentional discrimination?

(Note: This case settled on November 13, 2013. The Supreme Court dismissed the case on November 15, 2013.)

This case asked whether disparate impact claims are cognizable under Section 804(a) of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). That section makes it unlawful “to refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” The Township of Mount Holly argued that the plain language of the statute does not permit disparate treatment claims, whereas residents of Mount Holly Gardens argued the opposite. Further, the Township asserted that permitting disparate-impact claims raises constitutional concerns—including Equal Protection Clause and Tenth Amendment violations, but the Residents countered that no such violations result from acknowledging disparate-impact liability under the statute. This case presented the Supreme Court with the opportunity to definitively rule on whether the FHA allows for disparate-impact claims. On November 13, 2013, the parties settled, and on November 15, 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed the case.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Are disparate impact claims cognizable under the Fair Housing Act?

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Facts

Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which includes the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), to secure equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin.

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Bond v. United States

Issues: 

Do the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses, read in connection with the treaty power, allow a statute that was enacted by Congress to enforce a treaty to serve as a valid basis for prosecuting a criminal defendant in Federal District Court?

Petitioner Carol Anne Bond was arrested in 2007 for attempts to poison a romantic rival, which culminated in a minor burn to the rival’s thumb. A federal district court sentenced Bond to six years in prison and five years of supervised release, and ordered her to pay a fine and make restitution, under the authority of the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act. Congress passed that statute to implement an international arms-control agreement to prohibit chemical warfare. Bond challenged her conviction, claiming the statute’s application to her domestic conduct exceeded Congress’ limited and enumerated powers. In reviewing her challenge, the Third Circuit held that Congress’ power to implement treaties validated the statute and Bond’s conviction. The Supreme Court’s ruling in this case will affect not only how broadly federal criminal statutes apply, but also the scope of Congress’ authority to implement treaties.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 
  1. Whether the Constitution’s structural limits on federal authority impose any constraints on the scope of Congress’ authority to enact legislation to implement a valid treaty, at least in circumstances where the federal statute, as applied, goes far beyond the scope of the treaty, intrudes on traditional state prerogatives, and is concededly unnecessary to satisfy the government’s treaty obligations; and
  2. whether the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, 18 U.S.C. § 229, can be interpreted not to reach ordinary poisoning cases, which have been adequately handled by state and local authorities since the Framing, in order to avoid the difficult constitutional questions involving the scope of and continuing vitality of this Court’s decision in Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416 (1920).

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