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The Secret History of the Fair Housing Act

Jonathan Zasloff

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

April 28, 2015

53 Harvard Journal on Legislation (2016, Forthcoming)
UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 10-21

The dominant scholarly consensus holds that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was “toothless” and devoid of enforcement; in the words of the pre-eminent scholars of US housing segregation, it was “intentionally designed so that it would not and could not work.” This Article demonstrates that this consensus is wrong, and that in fact the Fair Housing Act contained ample enforcement mechanisms. Moreover, it reveals the “secret history” of the Fair Housing Act, namely, that it passed in 1968 not through Congressional perfidy but rather through a classic political deal between President Lyndon Johnson and Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen, in which a weakened Dirksen agreed to support fair housing to preserve his leadership position and very probably his Senate seat. These conclusions force us to fundamentally reconsider the history of housing discrimination and segregation in the United States since the passage of the Act, and re-think how housing integration might be achieved in the future.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 33

Keywords: Fair Housing Act of 1968, housing discrimination, housing integration, legal history

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Date posted: August 18, 2010 ; Last revised: April 29, 2015

Suggested Citation

Zasloff, Jonathan, The Secret History of the Fair Housing Act (April 28, 2015). 53 Harvard Journal on Legislation (2016, Forthcoming); UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 10-21. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1661237

Contact Information

Jonathan Zasloff (Contact Author)
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )
385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
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