Hunter v. Erickson
Annotate this Case
393 U.S. 385 (1969)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Hunter v. Erickson, 393 U.S. 385 (1969)
Hunter v. Erickson
Argued November 13, 1968
Decided January 20, 1969
393 U.S. 385
The Akron City Council enacted a fair housing ordinance which established a Commission on Equal Opportunity in Housing to enforce the antidiscrimination sections through conciliation or persuasion, if possible, or, if not, through orders judicially enforceable. Thereafter, a proposal for an amendment to the city charter, which had been placed on the ballot by petition, was passed. It provided that any ordinance (including any in effect) which regulates the use, sale, advertisement, transfer, listing assignment, lease, sublease, or financing of real property on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry must first be approved by a majority of the voters before becoming effective. The trial court denied appellant's housing discrimination complaint, holding that the fair housing ordinance was rendered ineffective by the charter amendment, and the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the amendment was not repugnant to the Equal Protection Clause.
1. The case is not moot. Neither the 1968 Civil Rights Act (which specifically preserves local fair housing laws), nor the 1866 Civil Rights Act, was intended to preempt local housing ordinances; the Ohio Act of October 30, 1965 (which concerns "commercial" housing), does not apply to this case, and the Akron ordinance provides an enforcement mechanism unmatched by either state or federal legislation. Pp. 393 U. S. 388-389.
2. The charter amendment contains an explicitly racial classification treating racial housing matters differently from other racial and housing matters and places special burdens on racial and religious minorities within the governmental process by making it more difficult for them to secure legislation on their behalf. Pp. 393 U. S. 389-391.
3. Racial classifications "bear a heavier burden of justification" than other classifications, and here Akron has not justified its discrimination against minorities, which constitutes a denial of the equal protection of the laws. Pp. 393 U. S. 391-393.
12 Ohio St.2d 116, 233 N.E.2d 129, reversed.