Supreme Court upholds key tool for fighting housing bias

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has upheld a key enforcement tool used by the Obama administration and civil rights groups to fight housing bias.

The justices ruled Thursday that federal housing laws can prohibit seemingly neutral practices that harm minorities even without proof of intentional discrimination.

The ruling is a major victory for fair housing advocates who say that even race-neutral policies can have a negative impact on minority groups. The Justice Department has used so-called "disparate impact" lawsuits to win more than $500 million in settlements from companies accused of bias against black and Hispanic customers.

The case involves an appeal from Texas officials accused of accused of violating the Fair Housing Act by awarding federal tax credits in a way that kept low-income housing out of white neighborhoods.

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