Today is an exciting day for equity advocates throughout the nation. In landmark decisions, the Supreme Court voted to uphold critical aspects of two of the most important civil rights laws on the books — the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
In a long-awaited ruling of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to preserve disparate impact, a vital tool for fighting both intentional discrimination and unjustified policies that have the practical effect of discriminating against residents based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. The Court’s decision upholds the important principle that, as a nation, we value the diversity of the communities in which we live and are committed to building a nation where everyone can participate and prosper. For the past five years, PolicyLink has worked with 74 diverse regions across the country on best practices for implementing fair housing within their jurisdictions. With the reaffirmation of this vital principle, we look forward to working with our partners to use this and the soon-to-be-released Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule to protect housing choice and build neighborhoods of opportunity throughout the country.
In King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the second time, ensuring that over six million Americans across the country can continue to receive affordable health care through the federally-run health insurance exchanges. By maintaining the tax subsidies that put health care within financial reach, this ruling is an essential preservation of health care access for millions of low-income Americans, and keeps our nation on track toward providing health care for all. Even with the ACA intact, some remain without coverage, struggling to obtain adequate health care. In California, the state took an important step toward bridging that gap by providing Medicaid coverage to the children of undocumented and low-income immigrants through the FY2016 budget — a provision that will launch in May 2016. We applaud the California legislature on this action and look forward to working with our partners in California to fully implement this policy and to continuing to advocate until everyone in California, and the nation, have access to health care.
While talent and potential are equally spread across our nation, opportunity is not, and too many Americans live cut off from the kind of vital community resources that would allow them to thrive, such as access to good jobs, quality schools, and healthy environments. With today’s decisions, the Supreme Court took commendable action to preserve the most basic tenets of an inclusive, equitable society — equal opportunity in housing and access to affordable health care. These actions will not only help those most in need, they will help us lay the foundation for a stronger, more resilient, and more equitable nation.