Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp.
429 U.S. 252 (1977)
- MHDC was attempting to build
some low-income housing in Arlington Heights. They applied to have some
land rezoned from single-family to multi-family, but Arlington Heights
denied the application.
- MHDC sued, claiming that the
denial was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
- MHDC argued that because of
low-income housing demographics, the denial of the permit had a
disproportionate effect on minorities.
- The US Supreme Court found for
Arlington Heights and found that the zoning ordinance was constitutional.
- The US Supreme Court applied
the Disparate Impact Test to
determine whether the ordinance was actually based on a discriminatory
intent (aka a discriminatory
- In the Disparate Impact
Test, the challenging party has the
burden of showing that:
- The official action
affects a protected class in greater proportion than others, and if
such is established,
- The official action was
intended to discriminate against a suspect or protected class.
- The Court suggested the
following factors be used to determine if there was discriminatory
- Historical background of
decisions under the official action, particularly if unequally applied
in situations involving race.
- The specific sequences of
events leading up to the decision challenged in the case.
- Departures from normal
procedures in making decisions.
- Inconsistent substantive
- The legislative history
where there are contemporary statements made by the governmental body
who created the official action.
- Based on the factors they
laid out, the Court found that in this case, the zoning ordinance did not
show a discriminatory intent.
- The Court declined to use
the standard, Strict Scrutiny test
to determine if the zoning ordinance was constitutional.
- The difference is that Strict
Scrutiny is limited to official
conduct that on its face is based on a suspect classification. Here the
zoning ordinance was neutral and didn't mention race at all.