Blockbusting, Civil Rights Act, First Amendment, Fair Housing Act of 1968


An action was brought by the Attorney General against the president of a realty group and four other real estate brokers to enjoin alleged violations of anti-blockbusting provisions of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Defendants were accused of individually and collectively engaging in a practice to prevent the enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act and that a group of persons was denied rights as a result. It was alleged the defendant's agents made unlawful representations to white homeowners concerning changes in the racial composition of their neighborhood in order to induce sales. The trial court found that this practice was sufficient to constitute a practice prohibited by the Act and that only the Attorney General had standing to bring the action. Blockbusting is the practice of attempting to induce white home- owners to sell their homes by instilling in them fear that their neighborhood is undergoing a change in its racial composition which will depress property values and result in a general deterioration of the neighborhood. These homes are then bought at greatly inflated prices by black or other minority groups. White seller is injured by being frightened to sell, blacks are injured by buying at higher prices, and the public is injured by the entire practice. Many remedies have been sought to solve this problem. The appellant's motion for summary judgment was denied as the lower court decided there was issue of fact pertaining to the existence of coordinated efforts by defendants to make the prohibited representations. The court held this was not a practice or a pattern but the definition of these terms have never been adequately decided. The consequence of this new interpretation is to close a very obvious loophole and increase the likelihood that the congressional intent to eliminate blockbusting and end all forms of racial discrimination in housing will be achieved.



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