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For Now, Government Still Lets You Pick Your Own Roommate
The Foundry (Heritage Foundation) ^ | February 4, 2012 | David S. Addington

Posted on 02/06/2012 10:14:18 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks

The people of the United States ordained a Constitution of limited government. As time passes, the people have more of the “government” and less of the “limited.” Americans must work at maintaining their freedoms. Defense of the constitutional freedom of association involved in choosing roommates to share housing illustrates the effort required. Government has attempted to regulate our ability to choose a roommate, but efforts to resist that intrusion pay off in preserved liberty.

Tricia Rowe, a 31-year-old single woman who owned a three bedroom, single-family house, wanted a roommate. She posted on a church bulletin board a notice that said, “I am looking for a female Christian roommate. Rent is $375/mo, which includes utilities.”

On Thursday, July 15, 2010, an overcast day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Elizabeth Vezino of an organization calling itself the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan filed a complaint stating under oath that she believed that Ms. Rowe’s roommate-wanted notice expressed “an illegal preference for a Christian roommate, thus excluding people of other faiths.” The Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) went into high gear.

Luckily for Ms. Rowe, the Alliance Defense Fund took up her cause and provided legal representation. Ms. Rowe invoked her freedom of association under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as a defense against the claim that her statement preferring “a female Christian roommate” illegally discriminated. Ultimately, HUD ruled sensibly that “in light of the facts provided and after assessing the unique context of the advertisement and the roommate relationship involved in this particular situation potentially involving the sharing of personal religious beliefs, the Department defers to Constitutional considerations in reaching its conclusion” that “there is No Reasonable Cause to believe that the Act was violated in this matter.”

In a separate case, Roommates.com provided a well-known roommate locator service over the Internet. The service asked customers to create a profile identifying among other things their gender, sexual orientation, and whether children would live with them, and provided a space for “Additional Comments.” Individuals could search the Roommates.com database for potentially compatible roommates.

In California, organizations called the Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley and the Fair Housing Council of San Diego filed lawsuits against Roommates.com, alleging that questions seeking disclosure of gender, sexual orientation and familial status discriminate in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected the Housing Council claims that Roommates.com had discriminated in violation of the Act in helping people find roommates to share housing. The Court characterized the issue as follows:

There’s no place like home. In the privacy of your own home, you can take off your coat, kick off your shoes, let your guard down and be completely yourself. While we usually share our homes only with friends and family, sometimes we need to take in a stranger to help pay the rent. When that happens, can the government limit whom we choose? Specifically, do the anti-discrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) extend to the selection of roommates?

The Court indicated that a roommate’s unfettered access to one’s home implicated considerations of safety, privacy, property protection, and the constitutional freedom of association. Noting that it sought to avoid constitutional difficulties that would arise from government regulation of roommate selection, the Court construed the key term “dwelling” in the FHA to mean an independent housing unit and a not shared living unit.

The Court held that “[b]ecause we find that the FHA doesn’t apply to the sharing of living units, it follows that it’s not unlawful to discriminate in selecting a roommate” and therefore “Roommate’s facilitation of discriminatory roommate searches does not violate the FHA.”

Maintaining limited government and individual freedom requires Americans to stand up for their rights, fight to preserve them within our legal system, and to elect individuals committed to support and defend the Constitution. The country needs more people like Tricia Rowe and more businesses like Roommates.com who exercise and defend their constitutional freedoms. Their work to retain their freedom helps retain freedom for us all.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; Religion; Society
KEYWORDS: 1stamendment; fairhousingact; lawsuits; roommates

1 posted on 02/06/2012 10:14:26 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Interesting outcome. I wouldn’t expect such rationality from the 9th circuit.

But let’s be honest, if the government can tell you who you can and cannot hire, why couldn’t they tell you who you can and cannot live with?

If you trample the 1st amendment sometimes, why not all the time?


2 posted on 02/06/2012 10:29:14 AM PST by drbuzzard (different league)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Just wait till the government tells us you MUST rent out an empty room for section 8 housing.


3 posted on 02/06/2012 10:31:59 AM PST by Domandred (Fdisk, format, and reinstall the entire .gov system.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
...Elizabeth Vezino of an organization calling itself the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan filed a complaint...

This person should be required to write:

This Is None Of My Business, I'm Very Very Sorry To Have Troubled You

1000 times with a piece of very short chalk.

4 posted on 02/06/2012 10:34:13 AM PST by Max in Utah (A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.)
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To: Domandred

I like to bring this up from time to time: In the 60’s my parents were trying to rent our house prior to our move to Seattle. One day they left the house and told me (I had just finished the 6th grade) that if anyone called about the house that “sounded black”, tell them it was rented.

I actually had the presence of mind to ask my dad why, and this is what he said, and I paraphrase: If we rent to white people and they are deadbeats, we can kick them out. If we rent to blacks and they are deadbeats, we’ll be stuck with them for a long time.

That was the day I realized that our “well meaning” anti-discrimination laws hurt the very people the purport to help. Of course, as life went on, I learned I only scratched the surface of the insidiousness of such laws and their generational effect on the people they claim to help.


5 posted on 02/06/2012 10:40:48 AM PST by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: drbuzzard

And soon, we may also be taxed for an “underoccupied home” if we happen to have more bedrooms than occupants.


6 posted on 02/06/2012 10:40:58 AM PST by GILTN1stborn (Can you hear me now?)
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To: Max in Utah
. . . in the middle of a very busy Wal-Mart parking lot on a scorching hot summer day.
7 posted on 02/06/2012 10:44:10 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Only a psychopath would DEMAND to live in a stranger’s home when that stranger did not want them living there.


8 posted on 02/06/2012 10:44:15 AM PST by WayneS (Comments now include 25% MORE sarcasm for no additional charge...)
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To: Domandred

The response will be ‘sorry, the inn is already full’. I used to live in an apartment complex that provided Section 8 housing. I didn’t know it when I moved in, and the apartment complex is not going to advertise the fact that there are a bunch of subsidized folks in the apartments all around you. It first dawned on me when one of my neighbors said what they paid for rent. I also noticed an abnormal amount of crime in the area and that most of my neighbors were not going to work, despite being young and able bodied. I moved out when the landlord would not perform necessary maintenance in a timely manner. One of the best moves I have ever made.


9 posted on 02/06/2012 10:46:29 AM PST by toolman1401
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To: WayneS
Only a psychopath would DEMAND to live in a stranger’s home when that stranger did not want them living there.

There is no shortage of psychopaths among the population of liberals.

10 posted on 02/06/2012 10:47:38 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: cuban leaf
“That was the day I realized that our “well meaning” anti-discrimination laws hurt the very people the purport to help. Of course, as life went on, I learned I only scratched the surface of the insidiousness of such laws and their generational effect on the people they claim to help.”

Yes, minimum wage laws hurt most the marginally employable. The requirements expected from an employer towards a full time employee ensure that many of the marginally employable have to commute between two or three part time jobs - because nobody will offer them full time - despite it being in both they and the employee's best interest - because of the burden put upon the employer via legislation to “help” employees.

If you create a protected class of citizens - it is not unreasonable for people to NOT want to be caught on the wrong end of their protected status.

Prior to sexuality being a protected classification - one might well want to hire the most qualified person even if they are homosexual. After the legislation hiring that person is LESS favored rather than MORE favored. So whose interests did the legislation actually serve?

11 posted on 02/06/2012 10:50:41 AM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: Vigilanteman

In many ways, they are practically synonymous.


12 posted on 02/06/2012 10:50:58 AM PST by WayneS (Comments now include 25% MORE sarcasm for no additional charge...)
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To: Domandred
Just wait till the government tells us you MUST rent out an empty room for section 8 housing.

"There is living space for 3 families in this one room, Comrade!"
(Family count lowered since it's not the whole house.)
13 posted on 02/06/2012 10:52:19 AM PST by BikerJoe
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To: Domandred

Read Ayn Rand’s “We The Living”. That is exactly what happened in the old USSR. The government decided how much “space” was appropriate for you.


14 posted on 02/06/2012 10:54:58 AM PST by Clock King (Ellisworth Toohey was right: My head's gonna explode.)
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To: GILTN1stborn

Wouldn’t shock me. I think they already do it in the UK (or are suggesting it).


15 posted on 02/06/2012 10:58:18 AM PST by drbuzzard (different league)
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To: Max in Utah


Left: Elizabeth Vezino ...

The bland face of tyranny.
16 posted on 02/06/2012 10:59:44 AM PST by PetroniusMaximus
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To: toolman1401
...the apartment complex is not going to advertise the fact that there are a bunch of subsidized folks in the apartments all around you.

I lived for a few years at an apartment complex which had in its brochure "We're not actually public housing. We just look like it."

:)

17 posted on 02/06/2012 11:05:57 AM PST by Wissa (Gone Galt)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
I FULLY anticipate that faggots and dykes will soon have the ACLU petitioning for "equal rights" so that when you post for a "share this room" or "share this house", you can't say "NO" to a homo.

I think when they do that, I (as a balding old man) should be able to have equal rights to share a room with a hottie......

18 posted on 02/06/2012 11:08:55 AM PST by traditional1 (Stay thirsty, my friends.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Liberals are all for freedom of choice, as long as the sheeple make the “correct” choices. If not, then the government will have to choose for them.


19 posted on 02/06/2012 11:19:19 AM PST by kennedy (No relation to those other Kennedys.)
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To: Vigilanteman

No shortege of liberals among the population of psychopaths. There! That makes more sense.


20 posted on 02/06/2012 12:26:42 PM PST by reg45 (Barack 0bama: Implementing class warfare by having no class!)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

For now, there is only one recourse. We must lie.

Lie often.

Lie well.

There are plenty of ways to ignore the b*stards until CW-II is forced upon us.


21 posted on 02/06/2012 12:43:19 PM PST by Da Coyote
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To: Domandred

“Just wait till the government tells us you MUST rent out an empty room for section 8 housing.”

That kind of thinking is actually happening in the UK where some leftists are proposing that older people with relatively large homes should be forced to let out their extra rooms or that their homes should be seized outright and given to the poor.


22 posted on 02/06/2012 12:49:27 PM PST by MeganC (No way in Hell am I voting for Mitt Romney. Not now, not ever. Deal with it.)
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To: PetroniusMaximus
Left: Elizabeth Vezino ... The bland face of tyranny.

And I'm sure the fact that she is female is completely irrelevent.

After all, righteous, anal, group-addicted, parasitic, sadistic martinets come from both sexes.

But then why, when they're men, is their sex pointed out - but never when they're women?

Or should I say, female.

23 posted on 02/06/2012 1:11:25 PM PST by Talisker (Apology accepted, Captain Needa.)
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To: traditional1

We’re already there with the military. My son, who is a Marine, can be forced to room with a homosexual. It’s one thing to work with them, but another thing to be in the peak of your physical fitness while rooming and disrobing with someone who potentially gets turned on by that.


24 posted on 02/06/2012 1:16:32 PM PST by keats5 (Not all of us are hypnotized.)
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To: keats5
We’re already there with the military. My son, who is a Marine, can be forced to room with a homosexual. It’s one thing to work with them, but another thing to be in the peak of your physical fitness while rooming and disrobing with someone who potentially gets turned on by that.

Agreed, it should be consistent. either sexuality is completely ignored, and men and women room together as well, by assignment, OR sexuality is acknowledged, and homosexuals should be roomed with the opposite sex.

Let's see how long things last when feminist women are forced to room, and be exposed to, homosexual men. After all, by definition, they're perfectly safe - right?

And I'm sure homosexual women would just love to be roomed - or barracked - with straight men.

This hypocrisy was DESIGNED to tear the military apart.

25 posted on 02/06/2012 1:23:11 PM PST by Talisker (Apology accepted, Captain Needa.)
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To: Domandred

Oh that room? That’s where I keep my pet rattle snake. He seldom bites but he does seem attracted to you!


26 posted on 02/06/2012 1:49:52 PM PST by katana (Just my opinions)
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