Skip to comments.For Now, Government Still Lets You Pick Your Own Roommate
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. Rowes 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:
Theres 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 roommates unfettered access to ones 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 doesnt apply to the sharing of living units, it follows that its not unlawful to discriminate in selecting a roommate and therefore Roommates 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.
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?
Just wait till the government tells us you MUST rent out an empty room for section 8 housing.
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.
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.
And soon, we may also be taxed for an “underoccupied home” if we happen to have more bedrooms than occupants.
Only a psychopath would DEMAND to live in a stranger’s home when that stranger did not want them living there.
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.
There is no shortage of psychopaths among the population of liberals.
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?
In many ways, they are practically synonymous.
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.
Wouldn’t shock me. I think they already do it in the UK (or are suggesting it).
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."
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......
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.
No shortege of liberals among the population of psychopaths. There! That makes more sense.
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