Freedom to Discriminate in Choice of Roommates

Fair Housing Council v. Roommate.com (9th Cir. Feb. 2, 2011) holds that federal and state housing discrimination law do not extend to discrimination in choice of roommates (or in advertising for roommates). Part of the court’s rationale is its judgment that reading the law as applying to roommate selection would raise serious constitutional concerns, given the right to “intimate association” that the Supreme Court has recognized in cases such as Bd. of Dirs. of Rotary Int’l v. Rotary Club of Duarte (1987); the Ninth Circuit therefore interprets the federal and state laws, which it sees as not definitive on the subject, to avoid the constitutional problem.

The opinion is by Chief Judge Kozinski, joined by Judge Reinhardt. Judge Ikuta concurs as to federal law, but concludes that state law does apply to roommates; she would therefore remand for further briefing in district court on the constitutional question. Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer.

UPDATE: Link fixed, sorry about that.