Been busy this week working on a few writing projects, but I came across this on Twitter (thanks, @markvalli!) and it’s too good not to share. It turns out that Euclid v. Ambler, the Supreme Court case that ratified zoning as a constitutional use of state power, actually overturned a federal district court that had ruled that zoning was unconstitutional. That district court wrote:
The purpose to be accomplished is really to regulate the mode of living of persons who may hereafter inhabit it. In the last analysis, the result to be accomplished is to classify the population and segregate them according to their income or situation in life.
Recall, please, that the Supreme Court overturned this decision by arguing that apartments, and the people who lived in them, were “parasites” who were trying to “take advantage of the open spaces and attractive surroundings” of more affluent neighborhoods.
One thing that always gets me is that the contemporary excuse for past crimes – “It was a different time! They couldn’t have had our perspective on [issue of justice].” – is almost always a lie. There were almost always people who understood exactly what was going on, and who shared that opinion loudly. In, say, a federal court’s official decision. The reason the injustice was perpetrated anyway wasn’t that people didn’t understand; it was that they didn’t care. Apartment-dwellers are “parasites.” People like not having to live around people poorer than them.
But the fact that segregation is popular – today as in 1926 – doesn’t make it any less wrong.