“This court has repeatedly reaffirmed that racial balancing by state actors is patently unconstitutional,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his scathing dissent, adding that the “absence of racial disparities in multi-ethnic societies has been the exception, not the rule.”
Thomas went on to argue imbalance in the racial makeups of neighborhood “do not always disfavor minorities,” and pointed to unintended and negative consequences of past efforts to desegregate neighborhoods in major cities which actually made the racial disparity between urban and suburban communities more drastic.
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But Thomas and three conservative colleagues were on the losing side of the 5-4 decision.
Stanley Kurtz, author of “Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities,” uses the term “regionalism” to describe steps like Obama’s — somewhat incremental steps aimed at consolidating power in the cities:
“[Obama’s] new AFFH regulation is one of the most far-reaching attempts yet to punish communities that don’t submit to the president’s liberal ideology.”
“The regionalist movement grows out of the belief that the troubles of our cities are largely attributable to the existence of suburbs. Suburbanites leave the cities, taking their tax dollars with them. This, say the regionalists, is why cities suffer poverty and crime. The solution originally favored by regionalists was for cities simply to annex nearby suburbs, thus adding suburban tax money to urban coffers.”
But HUD statements say the idea behind the fair housing rule is to “take steps proactively to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities for all.”
Critics hearing this language say they fear that neighborhood racial quotas, or other measures using government force to replace free choice, may not be far behind.
The result may be not just cultural change, but political change as well. Robert Romano, senior editor at Americans for Limited Government, which campaigned against the AFFH, said the changes could cause a “gerrymandering” of local political districts.
“Those with low incomes are more likely to vote Democrat, so it could change the political situation of an area,” he said. “It will change where people live. People should be able to choose where they want to live and local communities should choose where they want denser housing.
“We shouldn’t have to live out some utopian vision as HUD sees it,” Romano said.