An activist challenges the legality of the reparations plan

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Lawyer for a conservative legal activist who has supported several challenges to race-based government policies in the United States Supreme Court sent a letter to officials in Evanston claiming the city’s planned reparations program is unconstitutional .

Activist Edward Blum, chair of the Austin, Texas-based nonprofit Fair Representation Project, said of Evanston’s remedial housing program, “Past discrimination cannot be corrected by a new discrimination “.

“This program,” Blum added, “will be challenged in court, resulting in costly and polarizing litigation.”

The four-page letter, signed by C. Boyden Gray, a Washington attorney who served in both Bush administrations, concedes that Evanston “has a horrific history of housing discrimination, and the policy of redress appears to be one. well-intentioned measure to remedy these hurts.

But he says the policy is not legal because “it offers benefits not on the basis of whether a person has suffered discrimination in the past, but only on the basis of skin color or color. national origin “.

The letter quotes Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, writing in a 2007 case, that “the way to stop racial discrimination is to stop racial discrimination.”

Blum’s group has had a mixed record in the United States Supreme Court, winning a case, Shelby County v. Holder, who struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, but lost one, Fisher v. University of Texas (2016) which disputed race. -Admission policies based on University of Texas.

The city council is due to rule on a resolution authorizing the implementation of the housing component of the repair program at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

The proposed program would provide forgivable loans of up to $ 25,000 for a down payment, home improvements or mortgage payment assistance to Black residents who are direct descendants of Blacks who lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969 or who can prove they suffered housing discrimination due to city policies. and practices after 1969.

The program is to be funded by tax revenues from legal sales of cannabis. The housing program has an initial budget of $ 400,000.

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