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To establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination, a plaintiff need prove no more than that the conduct of the defendant actually or predictably results in racial discrimination; in other words, that it has a discriminatory effect.
The U.S. brought an action against appellee city under Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, alleging that it had denied persons housing on the basis of race and had interfered with the exercise of the right to equal housing opportunity by adopting a zoning ordinance that prohibited the construction of any new multiple-family dwellings. The district court denied relief.
Did the district court err in denying the relief sought by the United States?
On appeal, the court held that the district court's conclusion was in error and reversed the decision. It found that the lower court failed to take into account either the "ultimate effect" or the "historical context" of the action. Because the ultimate effect of the ordinance was to foreclose 85 percent of African-Americans living in the metropolitan area from obtaining housing in the city, the court concluded that the ordinance did have a discriminatory effect.