City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc., 514 U.S. 725, 7 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 725 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

certiorari to resolve the conflict, 513 U. S. 959 (1994), and we now affirm the Ninth Circuit's judgment.3


The sole question before the Court is whether Edmonds' family composition rule qualifies as a "restrictio[n] regarding the maximum number of occupants permitted to occupy a dwelling" within the meaning of the FHA's absolute exemption. 42 U. S. C. 3607(b)(1).4 In answering this question, we are mindful of the Act's stated policy "to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States." 3601. We also note precedent recognizing the FHA's "broad and inclusive" compass, and therefore according a "generous construction" to the Act's complaint-filing provision. Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U. S. 205, 209, 212 (1972). Accordingly, we regard this case as an instance in which an exception to "a general state-3 On May 17, 1993, the State of Washington enacted a law providing: "No city may enact or maintain an ordinance, development regulation, zoning regulation or official control, policy, or administrative practice which treats a residential structure occupied by persons with handicaps differently than a similar residential structure occupied by a family or other unrelated individuals. As used in this section, 'handicaps' are as defined in the federal fair housing amendments act of 1988 (42 U. S. C. Sec. 3602)." Wash. Rev. Code 35.63.220 (1994).

The United States asserts that Washington's new law invalidates ECDC 21.30.010, Edmonds' family composition rule, as applied to Oxford House-Edmonds. Edmonds responds that the effect of the new law is "far from clear." Reply to Brief in Opposition 4. Even if the new law prevents Edmonds from enforcing its rule against Oxford House, a live controversy remains because the United States seeks damages and civil penalties from Edmonds, under 42 U. S. C. 3614(d)(1)(B) and (C), for conduct occurring prior to enactment of the state law. App. 85.

4 Like the District Court and the Ninth Circuit, we do not decide whether Edmonds' zoning code provision defining "family," as the City would apply it against Oxford House, violates the FHA's prohibitions against discrimination set out in 42 U. S. C. 3604(f)(1)(A) and (f)(3)(B).


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