Since the petition for certiorari in Township of Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. was filed last year, we have raised the possibility that, even if the Supreme Court granted certiorari, the case might settle before the Court had a chance to rule on the merits, like City of St. Paul v. Magner.  The justices were poised to decide the Fair Housing Act disparate impact question last year in Magner, but the case disappeared from the Court’s docket just a few weeks before its scheduled oral argument on February 29, 2012, when the City of Saint Paul dismissed its appeal. 

Now, with the Supreme Court having granted certiorari in Mt. Holly on June 17,  there are signs that a settlement could be in the works.  On June 26, the Township’s attorney sent a letter to the Clerk of the Supreme Court requesting that both the Petitioner and the Respondent be given 25 day extensions for filing their merit briefs.  The letter states that the extensions are sought “because the parties are currently engaged in settlement discussions to attempt to resolve the matter.  These settlement discussions have been time consuming and therefore reduce the time available to counsel to prepare their merits briefs.” 

A settlement in Mt. Holly before the Supreme Court has a chance to rule on the merits would increase the potential significance of the lawsuit filed last week by two insurance industry trade groups challenging HUD’s final rule that uses the disparate impact theory to assess whether a company has complied with the FHA.