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The United States Supreme Court can give vitality to the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C.S. § 3610(a), only by a generous construction that gives standing to sue to all in the same housing unit who are injured by racial discrimination in the management of those facilities within the coverage of the statute.
Two tenants, one white and one black, of an apartment complex filed complaints with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development alleging that their landlord racially discriminated against nonwhites, that the tenants thereby lost the social benefits of living in an integrated community, missed business and professional advantages that would have accrued from living with members of minority groups, and suffered from being "stigmatized" as residents of a "white ghetto." The District Court, not reaching the merits, held that the complaining tenants were not within the class of persons entitled to sue under § 810 (a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The Court of Appeals, in affirming, construed § 810 (a) to permit complaints only by persons who are the objects of discriminatory housing practices.
Did the tenants have standing to sue under § 810 (a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1968?
In overturning the appellate court's judgment in favor of the complex, the United States Supreme Court held that the Act conferred standing to sue to any resident of the housing unit who had been injured by racial discrimination in the management of the facilities. The Court reasoned that the definition of "person aggrieved" in the Act, 42 U.S.C.S. § 3610(a), was broadly defined as any person who claimed to have been injured by a discriminatory housing practice. The tenants alleged injury from the loss of important benefits from interracial associations. The Court also noted that the consistent administrative construction of the Act by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was that the tenants were aggrieved persons and were within the jurisdiction of the Act. Such construction was entitled to great weight.