Kudos to Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul, Minnesota, and City Attorney Sara Grewing for their decision Friday to withdraw the city's Petition for Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in Magner v. Gallagher, a case which had raised a challenge to the disparate impact standard under the Fair Housing Act.
As the Minnesota Lawyer magazine reported, "City Attorney Sara Grewing said her office and the city were worried about the 'collateral damage' that could result if the Supreme Court sided with the city. If the court sided with the city, and...disparate impact claims could not be brought under the Fair Housing Act, that decision could impact the ability of future plaintiffs who were rightly discriminated against to make a similar argument, Grewing said." The case now goes back to the trial court, where the city will continue to press its defense and seek dismissal of the case.
This decision is a great example of the role of government lawyers (and their clients) placing the broader public interest ahead of narrow litigation goals. We are fortunate that the mayor and city attorney decided to do the right thing for civil rights in this case. See stories in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Minnesota Lawyer.
- Phil Tegeler, PRRAC