In recent years, the Supreme Court has weighed in on many civil rights issues – from affirmative action to voting rights to housing discrimination – with far-reaching effects. In this program, attorneys from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Howard University School of Law will discuss the implications of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in an important Fair Housing case — Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.
I. Understand the language of the Fair Housing Act and the issue litigated in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.
II. Discuss the lead-up to the Inclusive Communities case, the strategy of various amicus briefs, and the content of the arguments presented at the Supreme Court
III. Explore how the Supreme Court’s decision affects housing discrimination litigation in particular and civil rights litigation in general
Rachel Goodman is a Staff Attorney at the Racial Justice Program of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she litigates cases relating to economic justice issues, particularly discrimination in housing and lending. She has also contributed to RJP litigation concerning racial profiling and the school-to-prison pipeline. She has previously served as a Karpatkin Fellow and a Legal Assistant on the Racial Justice Program. Outside of the ACLU, she clerked for the Honorable Joseph A. Greenaway, III, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She is a graduate of Yale College and of New York University School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Fellow.
Coty Montag is the Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where she focuses on economic justice and voting rights litigation. Prior to joining LDF, Ms. Montag served as Deputy Chief of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Civil Rights Division at the United States Department of Justice. Prior to her service at the Department, Ms. Montag was an associate at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP in San Diego, California, where she focused on fair lending, consumer protection, and antitrust class action litigation on behalf of individual and institutional plaintiffs.
As part of the Housing Section’s Fair Lending Unit at the Department of Justice from 2010 to 2015, Ms. Montag investigated and litigated matters arising out of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Her cases include United States v. Ally Financial Inc. and Ally Bank (E.D. Mich. 2013), the government’s largest-ever auto discrimination settlement; United States v. Synchrony Bank, f/k/a GE Capital Retail Bank (D. Utah 2014), the government’s largest-ever credit card discrimination settlement; and United States v. Wells Fargo Bank (D.D.C. 2012), a major fair lending investigation resulting in a $234.3 million settlement. In 2013, Ms. Montag received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, the second highest award for Department employees. In 2012 and 2014, she received the Assistant Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award. Ms. Montag is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Florida.
As Senior Counsel at LDF, Rachel uses litigation, policy, advocacy and public education to ensure access to equal opportunity in all of LDF’s practice areas, including education, economic justice and criminal justice. Rachel is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at NYU Law School where she co-teaches LDF’s Racial Equity Strategies Clinic.
Rachel has challenged discriminatory practices impacting students at the pre-K through higher education levels. She has initiated civil rights complaints regarding improper police ticketing of students for minor misbehavior in Bryan, Texas and the use of a single multiple choice exam for admissions to New York City’s prestigious Specialized High Schools. Rachel speaks and writes about the criminalization of Black youth, and the school push-out policies and practices, such as discriminatory school discipline, that drive children out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice system.
Rachel is currently lead counsel for LDF in Little v. Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA), a federal putative class action lawsuit challenging WMATA’s use of an overly broad and unnecessarily punitive criminal background screening policy which has a disproportionate impact on qualified African American applicants and employees. In conjunction with the litigation and related advocacy around the WMATA case, Rachel has co-led a task force focusing on disparate impact litigation and strategic communications in the areas of employment and housing discrimination. She also co-authored LDF’s amicus brief in Texas v. Inclusive Communities Project, a 2015 case where the United States Supreme Court unambiguously recognized both the legality and importance of the disparate impact protections set forth by the Fair Housing Act in addressing housing discrimination.
Rachel led LDF’s amicus effort in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, a challenge to the constitutionality of the consideration of race in the University of Texas (“UT”) undergraduate admissions policy. LDF has long played a key role in the litigation of this case, filing an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 and twice presenting oral arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In November of 2015, Rachel co-authored LDF’s United States Supreme Court amicus brief, which was filed on behalf of the University of Texas’s Black Student Alliance (BSA) and Black Ex-Student Alliance (BEST). LDF’s brief emphasized the continued importance of race-conscious admissions in not only admitting a diverse class but also preparing UT’s students and America’s future leaders. The brief also highlighted the critical role of diversity in breaking down stereotypes. Thus, LDF’s 2015 amicus brief asserts that “[w]hen students encounter classmates from different backgrounds—within and across dimensions of race, socio-economic status, and beyond—and come to understand and respect each other as individuals, they are all better for it.”
Rachel also serves as counsel in Davis, et al. v. City of New York and New York City Housing Authority, a federal class action lawsuit challenging the New York City Police Department’s unlawful practice of stopping and arresting New York City public housing residents and their guests for purportedly trespassing in public housing residences.
Prior to joining LDF, Rachel was a litigation associate at the plaintiff-side law firm, Beldock, Levine & Hoffman LLP. There, she developed a civil rights practice with a focus on police misconduct and employment discrimination. Prior to joining Beldock, she served as a law clerk to the Hon. Michael H. Dolinger in the Southern District of New York. Ms. Kleinman received her law degree from Fordham University School of Law magna cum laude, where she was a Stein Scholar for Public Interest Law & Ethics and the Associate Research and Writing Editor for the Fordham Urban Law Journal. Ms. Kleinman graduated from Brown University with a degree in American Civilization with honors. She served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Fordham University School of Law for seven years.
Professor Schneider is an Associate Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law, where she supervises the Fair Housing Clinic, and teaches doctrinal courses including Property, Sexuality, Marriage and the Supreme Court and Legal Methods. Under her supervision, the Fair Housing Clinic assists low-income DC residents with housing discrimination and landlord-tenant matters. She also serves as Interim Director of the Clinical Law Center.
Prior to joining the Howard University School of Law faculty in 2012, Professor Schneider was an associate at Goulston & Storrs, p.c. in Boston, where she practiced in the areas of commercial real estate transactions and affordable housing development. In private practice, Professor Schneider maintained an extensive pro bono practice through which she counseled non-profits, community development corporations, and affordable housing cooperatives on a variety of issues related to maintaining and developing affordable housing.
Prior to her work at Goulston & Storrs, p.c., Professor Schneider served as a law clerk to Judge Deborah Eyler on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Before becoming an attorney, Professor Schneider worked extensively in the field of education.
Professor Schneider received a J.D. (with honors) from the George Washington University Law School and a B.A. (magna cum laude) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Outstanding advocates for minority rights
Appreciated the supplemental materials, including the two law review articles [79 Mo. L. Rev 539 (Sum. 2014) and 115 Colum. L. Rev. Sidebar 106 (Sept. 18, 2015], two ACLU articles, a SCOTUS blog entry, and, most importantly, the opinion of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 2507 (2015).
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