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Friday, March 14, 2008

Ind. Decisions - Interesting non-Indiana 7th Circuit opinion today

In Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights v. Craigslist, a 10-page opinion, Chief Judge Easterbrook writes:

Section 804(a) of the Fair Housing Act forbids discrimination on account of race, religion, sex, or family status when selling or renting housing. 42 U.S.C. §3604(a). This prohibition is accompanied by a ban on ads that state a preference with respect to any of the protected classes. * * * The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on behalf of its members, contends in this suit that craigslist, which provides an electronic meeting place for those who want to buy, sell, or rent housing (and many other goods and services), is violating this statute. * * *

Using the remarkably candid postings on craigslist, the Lawyers’ Committee can identify many targets to investigate. It can dispatch testers and collect damages from any landlord or owner who engages in discrimination. See Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363 (1982); Gladstone, Realtors v. Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91 (1979). It can assemble a list of names to send to the Attorney General for prosecution. But given §230(c)(1) it cannot sue the messenger just because the message reveals a third party’s plan to engage in unlawful discrimination. AFFIRMED

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 14, 2008 12:29 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions