February 08, 2006
Craigslist Sued for Fair Housing Act Violation--Chicago Lawyers Committee v. Craigslist
By Eric Goldman
Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc., Case No. 06C-0657 (N.D. Ill. complaint filed Feb. 3, 2006)
Craigslist, the free online classified site, has been sued by a group of lawyers for violating the Fair Housing Act based on user-submitted classified ads that indicate discriminatory housing preferences. If this sounds familiar, it's because Roommate.com was sued under the exact same law for exactly the same behavior and won an easy victory under 47 USC 230. The Roommate.com case is on appeal, so perhaps the appellate court will see things differently. Otherwise, I don't understand the thinking of plaintiffs--particularly a group of lawyers--who bring lawsuits like this in the face of a clear federal exculpatory statute and directly-on-point adverse precedent.
Posted by Eric at February 8, 2006 05:12 PM | Derivative Liability
I understand their thinking quite plainly. There are too many lawyers, and there's not enough for them to do. So, they sit around thinking up bogus lawsuits to occupy themselves. Find something productive for all the surplus lawyers to do, and you've solved the problem.
Great comment! Of course, I'm in the business of producing surplus lawyers, so I have an inherent conflict... :-) Eric.
Posted by: Eric at February 8, 2006 06:30 PM
Golly! Too many lawyers? What a concept. Something productive for lawyers to do? Lets have them replace all of the illegal immigrants that we are wallowing in here in Southern California. The surplus lawyers surely should be well qualified to harvest all of the crops grown in california. Now that would be an excellent use of their education AND a character building exercise too, something that many lawyers need badly.
Posted by: Bill at February 8, 2006 08:18 PM
Shakespeare's character in Henry VII quipped, "the first thing we must do, is kill all of the lawyers."
Preceeding that, the character questioned, "how is it that we create a society full of chaos?"
Lawyers have been weaving social change and stability into the fabric of society since the dawn of civilization. They don't make laws, they use them. Your incredulity is misplaced and should be redirected at law-makers. Get a grip.
Maybe the lawyers are recognizing that housing ads are moving in large numbers to the internet and are trying to uphold the integrity of the Fair Housing Act. The FHA was meant to protect people from discrimination and just because that discrimination has moved to a new venue, the internet, does not make it okay. With that being said, I do not want regulations to sensor the internet, and I'm not sure how you can regulate one thing without beginning to regulate everything. It's a double edged sword.
Posted by: Linds at August 7, 2006 07:34 PM
Here's some detail on this Act:
Regardless of any immunity of Craigslist on account of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, it appears that the Fair Housing Act applies to landlords and business, and not to people looking for roommates.
In pursuing the matter with Craigslist instead of the landlords in question, the CLCCRUL is potentially complicating the lives of people who don't fall under the landlords and businesses category, e.g. by demanding that Craigslist implement troublesome checks and reviews. Thus, I'm looking for a roommate and my civil rights are potentially being violated by CLCCRUL. Ultimately, it boils down to who's civil rights they are favoring. To go a step further, this is somewhat reminiscent of the quote in "Animal Farm", "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." Though in this case, the CLCCRUL is not quite a dictator, the idea is similar: It's not really about equality. It's about the power of certain groups.
Posted by: josh chia at September 6, 2006 08:00 PM