City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc., 514 U.S. 725, 14 (1995)

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Thomas, J., dissenting

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The parties have presented, and we have decided, only a threshold question: Edmonds' zoning code provision describing who may compose a "family" is not a maximum occupancy restriction exempt from the FHA under 3607(b)(1). It remains for the lower courts to decide whether Edmonds' actions against Oxford House violate the FHA's prohibitions against discrimination set out in 3604(f)(1)(A) and (f)(3)(B). For the reasons stated, the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is


Justice Thomas, with whom Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy join, dissenting.

Congress has exempted from the requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) "any reasonable local, State, or Federal restrictions regarding the maximum number of occupants permitted to occupy a dwelling." 42 U. S. C. 3607(b)(1) (emphasis added). In today's decision, the Court concludes that the challenged provisions of petitioner's zoning code do not qualify for this exemption, even though they establish a specific number—five—as the maximum number of unrelated persons permitted to occupy a dwelling in the single-family neighborhoods of Edmonds, Washington. Because the Court's conclusion fails to give effect to the plain language of the statute, I respectfully dissent.


Petitioner's zoning code reserves certain neighborhoods primarily for "[s]ingle-family dwelling units." Edmonds Community Development Code (ECDC) 16.20.010(A)(1) (1991), App. 225. To live together in such a dwelling, a group must constitute a "family," which may be either a traditional kind of family, comprising "two or more persons re-

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