Inc. v. Kay R.I.S.E.
The district court established distinct standards for individuals and organizations legally challenging sanitary landfill siting decisions by local governments. To challenge such decisions on constitutional grounds such as racial discrimination the petitioner must establish that placement of a landfill in a predominately African American area resulted from intentional discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The ruling provided a useful guideline for local and state governments across the nation in making difficult decisions under public scrutiny.
Concerns over the placement of public facilities in neighborhoods and communities grew dramatically through the 1970s and 1980s following emergence of the U.S. environmental movement in the 1960s. Siting decisions by state and local governments were often challenged on constitutional grounds. Normally, opponents to the facilities claimed violations of the equal protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. In a challenge against proposed low income housing in a Chicago suburb, the U.S. Supreme Court in Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Corp. (1977) identified a number of factors to be considered in determining whether an action was truly unconstitutionally discriminatory. Building on a previous ruling in Washington v. Davis (1976), the first question was: what actual effect does the official action pose? Second, what was the historical background of the decision? Third, what was the specific sequence of events leading up to the challenged decision? Fourth, was the action a departure from normal procedures? Fifth, was the action a departure from normal criteria? And lastly, what was the administrative history of the decision? The Davis and Arlington Heights decisions dismayed civil rights groups throughout the nation. The requirement to prove discriminatory intent behind decisions was considerably tougher than simply demonstrating the disproportionate effects of government actions on minority populations.
Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Inc. v. Kay R.I.S.E. - Significance, The King And Queen Landfill Dilemma, Community Mobilization, Impact, Further Readings