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Objective

This study investigates the effect of attitudes, case facts, and political control on the fair housing decisions made by administrative law judges (ALJs) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Methods

Based on data obtained from HUD under a Freedom of Information Act request, we use Probit regression to model the outcomes of every housing discrimination case decided by the entire population of ALJs between 1989 and 2003.

Results

We discover significant variation in the likelihood of a pro-complainant outcome and the amount of actual damages awarded in fair housing disputes.

Conclusion

The attitudinal model of judicial decision making appears to apply to ALJ behavior in housing discrimination cases. At the same time, case facts, bureaucratic oversight, and other legal factors constrain ALJs.