Federal government paving the way to make criminals a protected class

A warning issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development yesterday points in the direction of eventually declaring criminals a protected class, the coveted status that gives a person more rights than ordinary Americans. Blake Neff of The Daily Caller News Foundation reports:

 The Obama administration released a warning Monday telling the nation’s landlords that it may be discriminatory for them to refuse to rent to those with criminal records.

Now, technically, this is not (yet) making criminals into a protected class:

 The Fair Housing Act doesn’t include criminals as a protected class, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says refusing to rent based on a criminal record is a form of racial discrimination, due to racial imbalances in the U.S. justice system.

This is the pernicious “disparate impact” theory in use. If a rule (or the rule of law) tends to affect a protected class (like blacks – for historic reasons) more than other groups, it is construed as discriminatory. Underlying this theory is the absurd contention that absent discrimination, every group would experience identical outcomes in every aspect of life.

And we are inching toward the contention that criminals -- a disproportionately black group – are now a protected class:

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits both intentional housing discrimination and housing practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect because of race, national origin, or other protected characteristics,” say HUD’s newly-released guidelines. “Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African-Americans and Hispanics. While the Act does not prohibit housing providers from appropriately considering criminal history information when making housing decisions, arbitrary and overbroad criminal history-related bans are likely to lack a legally sufficient justification.”

What this means in practice is that if a landlord denies an apartment to someone with a criminal record, and expensive and tedious legal battle may lie ahead, with a thumb on the scale in favor of the criminal (who almost certainly will enjoy free legal representation).

HUD says that landlords may be allowed to bar those with criminal records from living in a facility, but they will have to prove that such a policy is necessary for protecting the safety of other tenants, and designed to avoid illegal discrimination. The new guidance recommends that landlords consider factors such as the severity of the criminal history and how long ago it occurred.

So rent to the ex-con or you might be in big and expensive trouble.

It is not many baby steps to people with criminal records enjoying more legal protections than upstanding citizens with no cirminal record and a racial, religious, or sexuality background that is not preferred by the left.