For much of the country’s history, formal and explicit racial restrictions prevented people of color from accessing the mainstays of economic life, including employment and homeownership. Focusing especially on issues relating to credit and homeownership, the Racial Justice Program uses litigation and other advocacy to remedy deeply entrenched sources of inequality and ensure that access to opportunity is not allocated according to race.

Though explicit racial classifications were outlawed by the civil rights statutes passed in the 1960s, yawning disparities in wealth, income, and other economic opportunities remain, preventing us from achieving true racial justice in America. These racially disparate outcomes reflect a combination of covert discrimination, structural inequality, and implicit biases, and they have become more severe in the continuing aftermath of the economic crisis of 2008.

Focusing especially on issues relating to credit and homeownership, the ACLU uses litigation and other advocacy to remedy deeply entrenched sources of inequality and ensure that access to opportunity is not allocated according to race. Because, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., put it, “What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t have enough money to buy a hamburger?”

Our Work

The ACLU Racial Justice Program has active litigation and advocacy challenging discrimination in the issuance of predatory loans and their purchase for securitization by Wall Street; compelling production of records used by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) in deciding to block municipalities from using eminent domain to prevent foreclosures; and appealing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) refusal to disclose consumer complaints pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request by MFY Legal Services, Inc.

The ACLU also files comments on proposed rulemaking by agencies that work on issues of economic justice and amicus curiae or “friend of the court” briefs in major cases challenging the disparate impact standard as applied to the Fair Housing Act.

Active Cases

Adkins v. Morgan Stanley
Challenge to Morgan Stanley’s securitization policies and practices based on their discriminatory effect on black borrowers in the Detroit area during the subprime lending boom.

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment v. Federal Housing Finance Agency
Lawsuit seeking to compel the FHFA to provide details about its relationship with the financial industry and its efforts to block municipalities from using eminent domain to prevent foreclosures.

FOIA Appeal to CFPB for Mortgage-Related Complaints
ACLU appeal of denial of MFY Legal Services’ Freedom of Information Act request to the CFPB to produce complaints filed with the CFPB concerning mortgage products, loan modifications, collection, and foreclosure.

Amicus Briefs on Economic Justice Issues

Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.
Filed brief in U.S. Supreme Court case in support of robust rights for borrowers under the Truth in Lending Act.

Property Casualty Insurers of America v. Donovan
Filed brief in support of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rule on Disparate Impact in the Fair Housing Act.

American Insurance Association v. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Filed brief in support of HUD Rule on Disparate Impact in the Fair Housing Act.

Township of Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc.
Filed brief in U.S. Supreme Court case supporting the availability of Disparate Impact claims under the Fair Housing Act.

Magner v. Gallagher
Filed brief in U.S. Supreme Court case supporting the availability of Disparate Impact claims under the Fair Housing Act.

Public Comments

ACLU Comment to FTC on Big Data and Discrimination (2014)
ACLU Comment to CFPB on Release of Consumer Complaint Narratives (2014)
ACLU Comment to CFPB Regarding Debt Collection (2014)
ACLU Comment to CFPB on Proposed Amendments to Truth in Lending Act Regulations (2012)

 

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