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Abstract

In the recent decision of Trinity Episcopal School Corp. v. Romney, a court, for the first time, was confronted with a proposal to apply a "tipping" standard solely on the basis of income, rather than racial grounds. The case involved a group of middle-income residents seeking to enjoin the State and City of New York, as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from increasing an area's low-income population through the building of various housing projects. "Tipping" has been defined as "that point at which a set of conditions has been created that will lead to the rapid flight of an existing majority class under circumstances of instability which result in the deterioration of the neighborhood environment." The court in Trinity refused plaintiffs' request to expand the tipping doctrine to include economic classifications because of the absence of legal precedent for such an argument and the inherent difficulty in expressing the tipping concept in economic terms. Although one court has recognized and accepted the concept of racial tipping, no court has extended this concept into the area of economics. Because all forms of tipping are relatively new concepts, parties using this argument must generally be wary of other problems; i.e., questions of standing and the evidentiary validity of sociological data and research statistics. These parties, recognizing the legal weaknesses of a tipping theory, have also added equal protection arguments where possible to encourage the courts to accept their position. Therefore, to be persuasive, an economic tipping argument should be fashioned after an argument for racial tipping.

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