Thursday, February 2, 2017

Redlining for Muslims

In Monday's post, I gave some odd legal references on Trump's entry ban, getting to Lemon v. Kurtzman via the "intelligent design" case from Dover, Pennsylvania.  Continuing in the odd legal analysis of the entry ban, here's some policy history.

Does anybody remember redlining?

Let's say you are a mortgage lender or a property owner, and a subhuman, racist piece of fucking shit.  But, let's say you are also smarter than Donald Trump, and not just going to turn away black people and get taken to court by the Department of Justice the way Trump did in 1973 because he just wouldn't rent to black people.

The smarter racists came up with more astute ways to get around civil rights laws.  That's where "redlining" comes in.  Let's say you are a mortgage lender who doesn't want to give a loan to African-Americans, but the law requires you not to discriminate on the basis of race.  How do you get around that?  Take a map of your city, and if the city is currently segregated by race for historical/economic reasons, draw actual, literal red lines around the neighborhoods where the black people live, and create a rule for your bank:  no loans to anyone who currently lives in any of those neighborhoods.

Since the rule doesn't rely explicitly on the race of the loan applicant, it can get by the scrutiny of many judges.  And it did.  Redlining didn't go the way of the dodo until the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act banned it.  Banks have still found ways to give people, um, differential treatment, but redlining became illegal.  Why?  Well, it was just fucking racist, and everyone knew it.  But, it had enough veneer to it that it passed legal muster until a law was passed banning it explicitly.

This is the short version, of course.  The full story is far more complicated, but you get the point.

On the campaign trail, Trump called for banning Muslims from entering the country.  Even his own eventual VP called that "offensive and unconstitutional."  So, by Rudy Giuliani's own account, he huddled his advisors together to come up with something that was effectively a Muslim ban, but that could pass constitutional muster because it wasn't, on its face, a Muslim ban.  So, pick some neighborhoods countries that are predominantly Muslim.  Nobody from those neighborhoods countries.

I wonder if they used red lines on the map during the meeting.

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