Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
CDA

Craigslist Fair Housing Act Suit Dismissed 162

Posted by kdawson
from the common-carrier dept.
tigersaw writes, "A federal judge in Chicago has dismissed the suit against Craigslist brought by the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which accused the site of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 by not actively filtering out housing advertisements that include discriminatory language. Craigslist cited their community-based flagging system as an already effective means of limiting such posts. However, the court held that the site was nonetheless protected by the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA), which shields Web forums from liability for ads and opinions posted by their users."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Craigslist Fair Housing Act Suit Dismissed

Comments Filter:
  • Anybody's got an URL to a non-registration site?
  • Terms of Use (Score:4, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:16AM (#16913242) Journal
    I will cite the craigslist Terms of Use [craigslist.org] Section Three:
    3. CONTENT

    You understand that all postings, messages, text, files, images, photos,
    video, sounds, or other materials ("Content") posted on, transmitted
    through, or linked from the Service, are the sole responsibility of the
    person from whom such Content originated. More specifically, you are
    entirely responsible for each individual item ("Item") of Content that you
    post, email or otherwise make available via the Service. You understand that
    craigslist does not control, and is not responsible for Content made available
    through the Service, and that by using the Service, you may be exposed to
    Content that is offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise
    objectionable. Furthermore, the craigslist site and Content available through
    the Service may contain links to other websites, which are completely
    independent of craigslist. craigslist makes no representation or warranty as
    to the accuracy, completeness or authenticity of the information contained
    in any such site. Your linking to any other webites is at your own risk.
    You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the
    use of any Content, that you may not rely on said Content, and that under no
    circumstances will craigslist be liable in any way for any Content or for
    any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of any Content
    posted, emailed or otherwise made available via the Service. You acknowledge
    that craigslist does not pre-screen or approve Content, but that craigslist
    shall have the right (but not the obligation) in its sole discretion to
    refuse, delete or move any Content that is available via the Service, for
    violating the letter or spirit of the TOU or for any other reason.
    Section Seven goes on to describe acceptable CONDUCT. So, the part about everything being posted is the responsibility should keep craigslist from any liabilities. Slashdot has the similar disclaimer:
    The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
    Which appears on (to my knowledge) every page they serve with user created posts. I think it would protect craigslist to do the same and add that sort of legal speak to their
    Stating a discriminatory preference in a housing post is illegal - please flag discriminatory posts as "prohibited"
    disclaimer on every page. I'm not sure if that message has always been there but it is now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually -
          Discriminatory housing posts are legal (As the property owner) if the poster will be sharing the same building/structure of IIRC 4 units or less with the renter.

          Additionally -
                There is nothing discriminatory about seeking housing (as the renter) 'with' a particular group. Self limitation is never actionable, or restricted.

      Posted as AC because there are idiot racists, and other idiots who love to scream racist.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The people who brought this suit certainly know this. They lawyers that represetn them certainly know this. They also know all about the CDA. The thing is - they just don't care. They're overzealous and would really like a slice of the CL pie, especially after the big investment from Google. They were hoping for a tech-ignorant judge or jury. Its a matter of chance they didn't get one which would have ordered 10 million dollars to all these people, violate basic free speech protectiosn, etc all for the
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HoboMaster (639861)
        "absolutely ideal for a young professional and socialite!"

        The fact that we live in a world that can construe that as racist makes me angry.
      • by pete6677 (681676)
        The only one of those ads that is even remotely discriminatory is number 2. I'd say these lawyers are just looking for some low hanging fruit, to see who they can quickly shake down. Craigslist decided it wouldn't be them. I'm all in favor of outlawing both blatant and implied discrimination in housing, but this is clearly going too far.
      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)
        Maybe they just understand that there was a purpose to that law, to prevent prejudicial business practices, and its being dodged.

        This is a GOOD law, and Cragslist is a haven for fraudsters. They SHOULD be compelled to comply with this law. Hell, if they can't clean up their act, they should be shut down.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by msslc3 (846991)

        I am a fair housing attorney. Before anyone goes ballistic, I should explain that I only defend fair housing cases. I have been handling this type of case for over 20 years and have never represented a plaintiff. I defend these cases because they are a challenge to win and the consequences of defeat are absolutely horrendous, both financially and emotionally. I have never lost a fair housing case. I am a lawyer, not a magician. I keep my clients from defeat by promptly settling cases they cannot possibly wi

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tompaulco (629533)
          A landlord cannot advertise that the apartment is near a church or synagogue because this implies an illegal preference based on religion.
          False. A Landlord cannot advertise that the apartment is near a church or synagague because because some big city lawyer will sue them for illegal preference based on religion, when in fact, they just may want their potential tenants to know what is nearby, so that they won't be falsely representing the surroundings of the property.
          The Mexican restaurant isn't a big p
          • by Malakusen (961638)
            Dunno if you missed it, but the guy you're quoting IAL (Is A Lawyer). A Housing lawyer no less. I'm guessing he knows the trues and the falses better then you do.
            • by tompaulco (629533)
              Dunno if you missed it, but the guy you're quoting IAL (Is A Lawyer). A Housing lawyer no less. I'm guessing he knows the trues and the falses better then you do.
              No, he just knows the law better than I do. The law has nothing to do with true and false. My contention is that by saying "church" or "hispanic neighborhood", I am giving useful information to the potential tenant. The law's contention is that I am discriminating. The law is wrong. It has no clue what my intentions are and should be in no positi
          • by Mitreya (579078)
            A landlord cannot advertise that the apartment is near a church or synagogue because this implies an illegal preference based on religion.

            False. A La...

            I am sorry, I don't mean to troll or anything, but what do you base this "false" statement on? I agree that your claim is common sense, but the parent poster is an actual housing lawyer. I would imagine that in court, law will trump over common sense :(.

        • A landlord cannot advertise that the apartment is near a church or synagogue because this implies an illegal preference based on religion.

          I sure hope that either you're wrong or this is just a California thing, because that's one of the stupidest laws I've ever heard of.

          Would this logic also apply to advertising that the apartment is near a school, because it implies an illegal preference based on familial status? Would it be illegal to mention that the apartment is near a music store, because it discrim

  • Anyone have a link that dorsn't require registration to view?

    I sure would like to have seen the court rule on their assertion that their community-based flagging system provided protection.
  • by Zashi (992673)
    You mean to say there's a law that actually protects websites and their ability to post whatever they desire? Maybe laws aren't just for lawyers after all.
  • However, the court held that the site was nonetheless protected by the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA), which shields Web forums from liability for ads and opinions posted by their users.

    Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one. And Congress is certainly full of both, so it makes sense that they'd put two and two together on this one.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:26AM (#16913334) Homepage
    I understand the ideals behind the legislation, but let's think about this one for a second. Sure, people shouldn't be stopped due to arbitrary standards like race or gender from renting anywhere they want, but forcing a bigot to do it is not a good idea. Think about this one for a second, really well before responding. Does it make sense to order an adherent of white power or black panther ideology to rent to those they **hate**? Forcing people to do stuff like that has never worked well since the beginning of time.

    But then, freedom of association is not valued by most Americans even though it is arguably one of the top few most precious natural rights a human being has and the most frequently violated by authoritarian states. I'm not even surprised, though, as many of the types who make support of the Civil Rights act almost like a religious mantra also tend to be the sort of people who support speech codes and free speech zones on college campuses.

    Fucking pathetic that these sorts of people are allowed to be called "liberal" when in reality all they are is authoritarian.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      When the bigot chooses to engage in commerce, he loses some of his rights to associate with whom he pleases.

      If he wants to let other bigots live in his places for free, no prob. They can do what they want (and I hope they all die in a fire.)

      But if he wants to engage in commerce and earn a profit, he does so with society's help in terms of market regulation and authority to enforce contracts. Engage in commerce? I say all of us should be able to compete on a level playing field.

      In short, keep your bigoted
      • by NormalVisual (565491) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:46AM (#16914280)
        But if he wants to engage in commerce and earn a profit, he does so with society's help in terms of market regulation and authority to enforce contracts.

        And he pays for society's help in the form of taxes.

        In short, keep your bigoted acts private and you're fine. Air them in public and fuck you.

        Tolerance is a two-way street. You're always free not to associate with those you disagree with. It's remarkable how so many of those who scream the loudest about "tolerance" are unwilling to actually practice it.
        • What you're missing is that a bunch of bigots can work together to keep all nonwhite people out of their neighborhood. The FHA makes this illegal, and rightly so - you have a right to live where you want (assuming you can pay for it). This doesn't extend to specific addresses, but if you want to live near your job, nobody has the right to refuse you because they don't like your kind.
        • But if he wants to engage in commerce and earn a profit, he does so with society's help in terms of market regulation and authority to enforce contracts.

          And he pays for society's help in the form of taxes.

          and in market regulation. You err, as do many free-market Libertarians, in presuming that money is the only form of payment extant or requirable.

          Furthermore, I would argue — on principle only, as any knowledgeable lawyer could rip my argument to shreds from the case law — that in

      • When the bigot chooses to engage in commerce, he loses some of his rights to associate with whom he pleases.

        So nice to know I live in America, where I'm free to do anything I want, as long as I never interact with anyone else. C'mon, how is it possible to live in this world without engaging in commerce? I don't necessarily disagree with your conclusion (that this regulation is OK), but I do disagree with your line of reasoning. In order to exercise my rights, I have to be able to exercise them in commer

    • Here's an example - background and drug checks. I'm not going to go into the reasons, but black folks as a percentage of population are incarcerated more than the general population, many because of (quite minor) drug related offenses. Don't want black folks working for you, have a stringent background check and drug testing. You'll get rid of more (as a percentage) black candidates than white.

      Don't want to rent to black/spanish/white folks, someone with a black/spanish/wasp sounding name calls, tell them t

      • It's true that bigotry can creep in through many avenues, but you're showing the *harm* here, not the harmlessness, of such non-discrimination laws. Such laws are actually written with the intent to prevent *even those* workarounds you just described. It's called "racial steering" or other things depending on the context. I heard a story about one landlord who offered one prospective tenant a soda, but not another one. The other one was black, and it has an FHA sting. The litigation hurt.

        The end result
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:38AM (#16914144)
        Overt discrimination is rare these days, even in the U.S. deep South. Discrimination has become MUCH more sophisticated than anything as crude as "Whites Only" signs. To effectively segregate your schools, for example, you only need gerrymander your school districts so all the white, middle class, and wealthier neighborhoods are in one school district and all the inner-city, poor, and predominately black neighborhoods are in another.

        -Eric

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
          Good point. A lot of people don't realize that a major (if not primary) driver of urban sprawl and high real estate prices is people using more roundabout means to keep their kids from having to go to school with the riff-raff (which doesn't necessarily mean minority, but usually does). This leads to a zero sum game where people pay more to be in the best school districts, not merely "good ones".

          In my opinion, most everyone would be better off if they just accepted that rich people are going to find some
        • by lav-chan (815252)

          Overt racial discrimination, maybe. Sexual discrimination is still perfectly acceptable in almost all facets of society.

          Try mandating that your Black employees have to dress differently from your White employees and you'll never hear the end of it, but that works cool if it's males and females. Or see if saying 'we only hire White people for our wait staff' is treated the same as 'we only hire women'. And then there's that last great bastion of segregation, the bath room. We got rid of racially segregated

      • And if someone is that much of a bigot, let him wallow around and miss out on opportunities because of it: his loss.

        You'd think it'd be the case that they'd lose business, but not always [hendersonvillenews.com].
        • That story was a bit ironic because you know the two gay guys sent that email out to start trouble for the landscapers, and now they're wishing they'd never sent it out and that the drama would die down. Let this be a warning to anyone who thinks that starting a stink is the best way to get someone to cave into your wishes; sometimes it truly is the best thing to just walk away.
          • I really failed to see a problem worthy of all the drama. If someone doesn't want to do business with me for whatever reason, I'll just accept it and find someone else to do the work. If you force someone to do work for you against their will, you're probably not going to get a spectacularly good result for your money, so it's best to find someone that actually wants your business.

            Again, we see the two-edged sword of tolerance at work. Those who engage in any given lifestyle while harming no one else
            • Yeah, I know what you mean. It seemed pretty obvious as you stated, if someone wants to work for you then that's better than hiring someone who doesn't. I agree fully about the tolerance issue.
        • by khallow (566160)
          Did you google for that or do you actually read the Hendersonville News on a regular basis? I grew up on that paper.
      • by gatzke (2977)

        My freshman roommate moved out after a quarter (into a fraternity house).

        People would periodically come around looking for a new roommate / new room.

        I would open the door in my boxers, with my beer gut hanging out, scratching myself.

        Never found another roommate for some reason...
    • Barry Goldwater (Score:4, Interesting)

      by geoffrobinson (109879) on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:47AM (#16913498) Homepage
      In 1964 Barry Goldwater took heat because, as a libertarian, he didn't support the Civil Rights Act because he believed that the public accomadation clauses since they violate the 1st amendments rights of freedom of association.

      Goldwater understood the ideals too, but stood up for freedom even when it isn't popular.

      The ideal was so good and tantalizing that people either ignored the fact they were violating this right or rationalized the problem away.

      We all do something like that. And I hope the people who complain about the Patriot Act but support public accommadation keep this in mind. If you are against the Patriot Act, are you against security? Maybe. Maybe not.
    • Well, I don't think this legislation is supposed to force people to not to discriminate in their choice in whom they rent to, since that would be pretty hard to enforce. It's more likely that the intent is to bar people from causing offense. However, I personally think that even this is pretty futile, especially on an online forum. If a forum like that were held responsible for all potentially offensive content posted, the viability of all online forums would be called into question. When it's suddenly not

    • Liberal: A power-worshipper without power.
    • by muellerr1 (868578) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:03AM (#16913662) Homepage
      It sounds like you're saying that liberals support free speech zones and 'speech codes' (whatever those are)--but in the last 8 years, who was the party in power who created the free speech zones for the liberals to protest from? I agree that some liberals are authoritarian, just like some conservatives are. But liberals are the backbone of the ACLU, protecting your free speech everywhere.

      But to address the main point of your post, yes, it is a good idea. Most bigots are functioning bigots anyway, meaning that they will happily take anyone's money for rent. They may even learn a degree of tolerance or even respect. Moreover, once you start allowing that kind of segregation, you end up with sections of town for the blacks, Jews and other minorities. This was the case as recently as the 1970s in some areas, but since that sort of thing has been regulated by Federal law, people are allowed to live anywhere they want. Do you really want to return to segregation?
      • I thought that speech codes were created by either the student government or the school administration. Perhaps the State governments had something to do with it, but I'm not sure if the Federal government had anything to do with it.


        Now, what was weird were the "protest areas" during the 2004 election. The one for the DNC was really funny as it looked like a concrete bunker lined with barbed wire.

      • It sounds like you're saying that liberals support free speech zones and 'speech codes' (whatever those are)

        2004 Democratic National Convention had a free speech zone, and in fact seem to have been first used at the 1998 Democratic National Convention, both times used before Republicans eventually did it. (Source: Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]) (Please do not take this as an endorsement of the republicans).

        This is a complicated issue, and apparently one that clashes with some people's "absolutist" views of the 1st amendment

    • When you put a Craigslist ad up, add the following to it:

      DISCLAIMER: Responding to this ad is not a binding contract to deliver housing. Respondents are subject to be denied housing based on arbitrary issues of incompatibility with current tenants. Void where prohibited. Contact current tenant for details.

      While it may be a bit overly "liberal," understand that it's a reaction to a period of time in which people of certain races were not allowed to rent outside of their own area. You quote "bigots" and

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pgaffney (247103)
      I and all others have a right to an economy that as much as possible allows anyone to participate on equal terms irregardless of each of our own racial, religious and sexual identity. Necessary to this is that you don't allow people to publish commercial speech that specifically excludes a person on the basis of that person's group membership.
      Free association is important, but we need to make sure our economy respects all human beings.
      Filthy, thieving robots need not apply.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Is it freedom of association or commerce? Once you advertise in public (in this case in cyberspace, which is public) for a paid service, it's no longer association. It's commerce, which can and should be regulated. If you want to avoid renting to certain types of people you hate, then you can find the person you want to rent to IN PERSON. It's in the interest of society to have commerce which does not discriminate based on factors like race.

      By the way, freedom of speech isn't about having the right to s
      • Is it freedom of association or commerce?

        Freedom of association shouldn't go away just because money is involved -- to act as if it did would make it almost meaningless. There can be no fundamental separation between private and commercial rights, as they are both derived from the same source: private property rights. If I have freedom of association as an individual in a non-commercial context, then I must also have that same freedom of association as an individual (or a member of a group) in a commerc

    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:19AM (#16913894) Journal
      Fucking pathetic that these sorts of people are allowed to be called "liberal" when in reality all they are is authoritarian.

      And ironic that their namesake, Craig, is himself what people would describe as a "liberal" and is being targeted by the very people that he in other contexts would support. This is a man who would go to hell and back to avoid discriminating against others, and one who runs his business at unbelievably thin profit margins in order to pursue other goas with the service. And what is his thanks? He gets sued on grounds of discrimination, ignoring all the oppressed groups he's helped find housing. Brilliant!

      "A conservative is a liberal who's tried to run a business."
      • by rark (15224)
        Because Liberals are all one block of people who all think the same way...and Conservatives would never target eachother or act in authoritarian ways...

        Seriously, the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law didn't sue Craig, they sued his company, and he isn't being 'targeted' -- Nobody claims that Craig is being discriminitory and certainly no one is suggesting that people lynch him in any way. To a large extent this is about how anti-housing-discrimination enforcement in online advertisement
    • or is your opinion based on a hypothetical thought experiment, rather than one based on the real world as populated by real human beings?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by malsdavis (542216) *
      I wholeheartedly agree. Freedom of association is one of the most important rights on the same level as freedom of speech (which it is very much inter-tangled with).

      It's ironic how strikingly authoritarian some civil rights legislation can be. If bigots want to be bigoted then people have to accept that and if they disagree with it then they should not associate with them. Forcing them to change their views is itself a very bigoted approach.

    • Sure, people shouldn't be stopped due to arbitrary standards like race or gender from renting anywhere they want, but forcing a bigot to do it is not a good idea.

      First, this isn't legislation, it's the finding of a federal judge in a crazy lawsuit (one that was brought by some folks I actually know who were definitely barking up the wrong tree IMO). Second, it's a far thornier situation and the answers aren't nearly as clear. I'm sympathetic to your line of thinking on some level, but there are mitiga

    • This [slashdot.org] comment was supposed to go here.
    • by rhizome (115711)
      these sorts of people are allowed to be called "liberal" when in reality all they are is authoritarian.

      Like race, gender and religion, authoritarianism exists outside of political leanings. Power of all stripes has sought to enforce its ideology over their constituencies. Authoritarianism is a particular technique for the application of ideology to society at large, the only difference being who its victims are.
  • They may be safe; (Score:4, Informative)

    by Upaut (670171) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:05AM (#16913698) Homepage Journal
    But the moron who included that in an add may not be.

    Now people have the right to have opinions I find horrid, they do have that right. But they do not have the right to discriminate with housing. On paper.

    They could show the room to let to several people, choice one that configures with their "beliefs" and call the others with the statement that an earlier viewer decided to rent, and has secured a deposit. Easy. Clean. And hard to sue.

    Personally, I am guilty to the treatment above. I "HATE" idiots. Pure stupidity and I do not mix (Idiots, not dyslexics. We cool.). So when I rent a room, I conduct a small interview, both via e-mail and durring a personal tour. If I like the cut of their jib, I rent them the room. If not, I wait until I find one I do like, then rent to the following party.

    So, if you hate hippies, the same method works as well. Or any other group.
    • If you read the FHA Sec 803b states "Nothing in section 804 of this title (other than subsection (c)) shall apply to-- rooms or units in dwellings containing living quarters occupied or intended to be occupied by no more than four families living independently of each other, if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of such living quarters as his residence."

      Well, if you are renting a single room in a house, you fall under that blanket and thus none of the non-discrimination language applies to you. B
  • by Gadgetfreak (97865) on Monday November 20, 2006 @01:06PM (#16916718)
    Stewie: "We couldn't run an ad that said 'No Portuguese' but, um..... no Portuguese."

  • No where in Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution is Congress granted permission to regulate the housing market.

    Take a look here:
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constituti on.articlei.html#section8 [cornell.edu]
    • by Tweekster (949766)
      Are you serious?
      • ABSOLUTELY!

        When Congress begins to dictate what people can and cannot do in their own homes, with their own businesses, and how they have to market their commerce, then they have overstepped their bounds. Any powers that are NOT granted to the federal government in the Constitution are strictly reserved to the individual States.

        Read the 10th Amendment:
        "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the peo

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

Working...