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Alabama Realtors Group Files Motion to Intervene in Affirmative Action Lawsuit

— April 27, 2024

The motion, filed on behalf of an organization representing African-American real estate brokers, claims that a recently-filed lawsuit threatens the opportunity afforded by some of Alabama’s affirmative action initiatives.

An Alabama business-interest group representing African-American realtors has filed a motion in federal court, asking that it be allowed to participate in litigation involving alleged racial discrimination against a white woman who had sought to join the state’s real estate board.

According to, the motion was filed earlier this week by the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers, a trade group that advocates for the civil rights of Black realtors. It seeks permission to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Alliance for Equal Rights.

The American Alliance for Equal Rights, which filed the initial lawsuit in February, claims that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey violated state and federal law in choosing a person of color to serve on the state Real Estate Appraisers Board.

The Real Estate Appraisers Board, the Alliance says, is bound by a diversity policy that requires at least two of the board’s members be racial minorities—a policy attorneys suggest could cause better-qualified white applicants to lose out on a big opportunity.

“No one’s race should be used to include them, or exclude them, from service on government boards,” American Alliance for Equal Rights President Edward Blum told the right-wing Washington Examiner. “It is to be hoped that the State of Alabama ends this policy immediately.”

The Pacific Legal Foundation, the organization litigating the case on the Alliance’s behalf, similarly said that “government should not use race or ethnicity to decide who can serve the public.”

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“But Alabama’s Real Estate Appraisers Board does just that, excluding interested Alabamans from a currently open position on the board if they are not racial minorities,” P.L.F. counsel Glenn Roper told the Examiner. “Put simply, that is unconstitutional.”

However, the state Association of Real Estate Brokers claims that inclusion is a matter not only of fairness but practical necessity.

“Having a racially diverse and otherwise diverse board is crucial for fairness, both for the industry and for those who are appraisers or seeking to become appraisers,” Association spokesperson Kyle Herring said.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall—who is defending the state from the Alliance’s lawsuit, and has denied all claims of racial discrimination—has since emphasized that the state does not enforce the Real Estate Appraisers Board’s diversity requirement, nor does it plan to enforce them. The enforcement of such requirements, Marshall said, would be “unconstitutional” and serve no “compelling government interest.”

Marshall also indicated that enforcing inclusion could backfire by furthering racial stereotypes.

In the two months since the lawsuit was filed, though, more information has come about the plaintiff—a white woman who had requested anonymity, but was later identified as Laura Clark, a Prattville resident and member of the American Alliance for Equal Rights.

Clark, in a declaration to the court, stated that she does not currently work in the business of real estate appraising—even though the board requires that candidates have at least several years of experience in the field.

However, and in spite of this unusual revelation, notes that Alliance attorneys recently filed court documents that point toward ongoing settlement negotiations between the organization and the state.

If a settlement is reached, says, both parties could reach an agreement that does not require enforcement of the board’s existing policies—a possibility that the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers hopes to minimize through its intervention.

“Given its authority, having racial minorities and other groups, like women and Alabamians from rural areas, [sic] included on the Appraisers Board is paramount,” the brokers wrote.


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