Supreme Court Decisions Advance Fair Housing, Affordable Health Care

On June 25, the Supreme Court ruled on the side of civil rights and the American people in two pivotal cases: King v. Burwell and Texas v. Inclusive Communities Projects. In its decisions, the high court preserved the integrity of bedrock civil rights protections by affirming the validity of key components of the Affordable Care Act and the Fair Housing Act.

In a statement applauding the court’s decisions, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said “In a time when bedrock civil rights protections are slowly receding in the areas of voting, education, and elsewhere, today’s two Supreme Court decisions preserving the integrity of the Fair Housing Act and the Affordable Care Act are a welcome relief for the most vulnerable Americans.”

In its 6-3 vote in King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court held that the Affordable Care Act provides for government subsidies to be available to all Americans who qualify for them, not just those living in states that have set up their own health insurance exchanges. The court’s decision in King v. Burwell effectively saved millions of Americans from the risk of losing their health insurance in the coming years.

“The burdens of costly health care are not distributed evenly. Rather, they fall disproportionately on disadvantaged populations, which are more likely to experience higher rates of unemployment, to have jobs that do not provide health insurance, and to have lower incomes putting higher insurance premiums out of their financial reach,” said Henderson. “The Affordable Care Act is a giant leap forward in narrowing these disparities and today’s decision solidifies to these communities that their health care is no longer at risk of being taken away.

In its 5-4 decision in Texas v. ICP, the court affirmed a legal tool that has been essential to combating housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act for more than 40 years. The court’s decision held that The Fair Housing Act doesn’t solely ban overt, explicit discrimination, but can also prohibit seemingly race-neutral policies that have the effect of disproportionately harming minority communities.

“In the Texas case, the Supreme Court’s decision ensures that millions of Americans will still be protected from housing discrimination and upholds the important principle that, as a nation, we value the diversity of the communities in which we live,” said Henderson. “At a time of heightened concern across the country over threats to racial justice, as seen in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, a fully functioning and effective Fair Housing Act is more important than ever.”