Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

Commentary

Cities may sue banks for injuries to their tax base caused by unlawful conduct against homeowners, according to the Supreme Court in a May 1st decision that was closely watched by fair housing advocates.  An unusual split among the justices produced the 5-4 opinion in Bank of America v. City of Miami.  The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) ruling demonstrates that the aggregation of direct harms can produce broader consequences that may be actionable by indirect victims.

CLiME Director David Troutt comments on the the New Jersey Supreme Court's latest Mt. Laurel decision: "Even amid dramatic national change, a lot about life is still local."
The presidential election that was too vulgar for us to write about, with accusations too inarticulate to describe policies, and an intimidating atmosphere of racist, nativist and sexist extremism inflaming every imaginable social division, finally received the emotional outcome it created. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in a historic upset destined to be known as the ultimate political demand for change. For those dedicated to working against structural inequality, this may be the transformative change we never imagined.
This past September, CLiME began this series on housing issues in Newark by reporting on a demonstration at City Hall, part of the National Tenants Day of Action. I met many organizers and tenants from the Terrell Homes, who have been fighting to preserve the residences of over 200 families in this public housing development located in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood. Terrell first made headlines in 2014 as the tenants fought against talks of demolition. Now the Newark Housing Authority has reinvigorated these talks—and fights—with their 2017 Agency Plan which includes a simple one-line proposal: "The NHA intends to apply for Demolition of Terrell Homes in conjunction with a potential riverside development by the City of Newark.”
Who is responsible for today's campus troubles? Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Intergenerational privilege is rooted in place -- in the home values and tax base, the schools and transportation networks available to people because of where they are fortunate to live. Decades of white flight, suburbanization, the abandonment of urban centers and regressive housing policies have contributed to a pervasive disconnectionacross racial, ethnic and class lines. This segregation has reinforced the corrosive effects of historical prejudice and biases that already divide society and make Americans, in effect, strangers to each other. It should come as no surprise, then, that the social landscapes of university communities are just as divided.
When President Obama visited the Rutgers Law School on November 2nd, it represented the startling achievement of two dream-like goals. First was the sheer specter of the occasion—seeing our president suddenly in our home, flanked by new flags and the familiar bars that adorn our atrium’s spiral stairs. Second was the occasion itself: to meet in a roundtable with formerly incarcerated persons and then to deliver a speech intended to reverse—by executive order—one of the single greatest public policy failures in American history.
In this season of anniversaries, no two are more stark in their parallels than Ferguson a year after the shooting of Michael Brown and New Orleans 10 years after Hurricane Katrina.
It is tempting to look for signs of America’s direction in the late June ritual of reading the U.S. Supreme Court’s most momentous decisions of the term. Last week’s rulings in support of marriage equality, fair housing and Obamacare would suggest that on fundamental issues of daily life — the equal status of all love, the idea of housing as a link to life chances and the opening of access to healthcare for millions — the United States just took a giant step toward updating the constitutional principle of liberty with dignity. What occurred, however, was more accident than deliberate progress.

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CLiME Director David Troutt comments on the the New Jersey Supreme Court's latest Mt. Laurel decision: "Even amid dramatic national change, a lot about life is still local."
The presidential election that was too vulgar for us to write about, with accusations too inarticulate to describe policies, and an intimidating atmosphere of racist, nativist and sexist extremism inflaming every imaginable social division, finally received the emotional outcome it created. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in a historic upset destined to be known as the ultimate political demand for change. For those dedicated to working against structural inequality, this may be the transformative change we never imagined.
This past September, CLiME began this series on housing issues in Newark by reporting on a demonstration at City Hall, part of the National Tenants Day of Action. I met many organizers and tenants from the Terrell Homes, who have been fighting to preserve the residences of over 200 families in this public housing development located in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood. Terrell first made headlines in 2014 as the tenants fought against talks of demolition. Now the Newark Housing Authority has reinvigorated these talks—and fights—with their 2017 Agency Plan which includes a simple one-line proposal: "The NHA intends to apply for Demolition of Terrell Homes in conjunction with a potential riverside development by the City of Newark.”
When President Obama visited the Rutgers Law School on November 2nd, it represented the startling achievement of two dream-like goals. First was the sheer specter of the occasion—seeing our president suddenly in our home, flanked by new flags and the familiar bars that adorn our atrium’s spiral stairs. Second was the occasion itself: to meet in a roundtable with formerly incarcerated persons and then to deliver a speech intended to reverse—by executive order—one of the single greatest public policy failures in American history.
In this season of anniversaries, no two are more stark in their parallels than Ferguson a year after the shooting of Michael Brown and New Orleans 10 years after Hurricane Katrina.
A continuing blog by students detailing important issues of equity that arise in their professional experiences. Here, third-year student Larry Krayne writes about his internship at the Newark municipal court, where he observes the complexities of race-, class-, and place-based bureaucratic obstacles to justice through the proceedings of traffic citations.

Cities may sue banks for injuries to their tax base caused by unlawful conduct against homeowners, according to the Supreme Court in a May 1st decision that was closely watched by fair housing advocates.  An unusual split among the justices produced the 5-4 opinion in Bank of America v. City of Miami.  The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) ruling demonstrates that the aggregation of direct harms can produce broader consequences that may be actionable by indirect victims.

Who is responsible for today's campus troubles? Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Intergenerational privilege is rooted in place -- in the home values and tax base, the schools and transportation networks available to people because of where they are fortunate to live. Decades of white flight, suburbanization, the abandonment of urban centers and regressive housing policies have contributed to a pervasive disconnectionacross racial, ethnic and class lines. This segregation has reinforced the corrosive effects of historical prejudice and biases that already divide society and make Americans, in effect, strangers to each other. It should come as no surprise, then, that the social landscapes of university communities are just as divided.
At the Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity (CLiME), we join a growing line of lawyers and legal academics who appreciate the role of structure—much of it legal structure, but public policy, too—in determining opportunity. Structure works on place, and place is where life happens. In our first year, CLiME will endeavor to be a resource about the structural relationship between place and opportunity.
It is tempting to look for signs of America’s direction in the late June ritual of reading the U.S. Supreme Court’s most momentous decisions of the term. Last week’s rulings in support of marriage equality, fair housing and Obamacare would suggest that on fundamental issues of daily life — the equal status of all love, the idea of housing as a link to life chances and the opening of access to healthcare for millions — the United States just took a giant step toward updating the constitutional principle of liberty with dignity. What occurred, however, was more accident than deliberate progress.
It must always be acknowledged that whatever one’s unconscious views, most cops work hard and do not engage in unprofessional conduct, let alone crimes. But dehumanization of blacks was on full display by at least one Ferguson police officer in a CNN report that recorded him shouting at protesters. If police brutality occurs along a spectrum of contempt for black life, so does dehumanization.
It’s rare to reach a point in our national sense of humor that a sitting Supreme Court justice emerges as the butt of popular jokes for comments he made during an oral argument. That’s what happened last week, however, after Justice Antonin Scalia asked lawyers defending Congress’s extension of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act whether maintaining the pre-clearance formula for nine “covered” states, which are subject to federal oversight, was really just a “racial entitlement” program and not a constitutional necessity.