Last week, there was a major civil rights victory involving the Roberts Court — a settlement prevented the Roberts Court from gutting the Fair Housing Act.
As an addendum, Serwer’s excellent background piece has another clip for my online “no, Richard Nixon was not any kind of liberal and please stop saying that” file:
Ending discrimination in housing has always ignited closely-held fears and drew comparable resistance to integrating schools. Neighborhoods across the country–not just those in the deep South–were divided by color lines enforced by realtors, lenders, and government officials. As with schools, neighborhoods across America proved stubbornly resistant to integration: whites would leave as blacks acquired the means to move next door. The Fair Housing Act was supposed to help change that, but in 1968 it was a tough sell.
Congress would only pass the Fair Housing Act over Martin Luther King Jr.’s dead body. King’s death, a week before the law passed, gave it political momentum that Capitol Hill couldn’t ignore. President Lyndon Johnson had pushed for passage but it fell to his successor, Richard Nixon, to administer a law he didn’t support.
George Romney, his secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was a true believer. Romney sought to use the law as a mandate to smash residential segregation and reverse years of government-subsidized white flight. Nixon knew he’d face a backlash from the suburban whites whose votes had put him in office so he pushed Mitt Romney’s dad out.
There is probably a good book to be written on the atavistic development of “moderate” Republicans from George Romney to his son.