I might be making too much of this, but they always seem to argue cases on election day. I take it as a sign that they present themselves as immune to politics. The cases they are hearing touch on issue we will raise in the sections on economic and social welfare policymaking (specifically the Fair Housing Act) - as well as items we covered in civil rights and the equal protection clause.
- Bank of America Corp. v. City of Miami
- Wells Fargo & Co. v. City of Miami
And a description of the case, also from ScotusBlog:
This one from the Washington Post might be more accessible.
- To recoup losses from the housing collapse, Miami pursues a novel suit.
The housing collapse of 2008 nearly broke the city of Miami. Now, its leaders have embarked on a novel and aggressive legal strategy to recoup losses from the big banks they say created the crisis with discriminatory and predatory lending practices.
It is a high-stakes effort that is being encouraged by many cities, and the banks Tuesday will ask the Supreme Court to stop it before it takes root.
Miami sued Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup under the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which bars discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing. The law states its purpose as providing for fair housing “throughout the United States.”
The city says that it can prove the lending institutions discriminated against Hispanic and African American residents by directing them into high-interest, risky loans. The resulting defaults destabilized Miami’s poorest neighborhoods, and the resulting loss of tax revenue sent the city to the brink of bankruptcy, they say.
In Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood, another vacant property is torn down. (Angel Valentin/For The Washington Post)
“It took us three years to really start recovering,” said Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez. “We decided unanimously as a commission that we wanted to hold the banks responsible for their lending practices, which we learned were discriminatory in nature.”
Banks have been sued by individuals and taken to task by the federal government for lending practices, but these new cases are the first in which cities are the plaintiffs and are demanding that banks be held accountable for harming their communities.
The banks counter that there is a reason such Fair Housing Act suits are novel: Congress never intended for the law to be used for such purposes.
“Municipal suits like this one were unheard of until recently, when enterprising contingency-fee counsel began pushing them,” Bank of America told the court in its brief.
The banks warn of a “trickle-down” approach that would let anyone affected by a neighborhood in decline — from the next-door neighbor to the corner dry cleaner — to sue under the act.