Montgomery, AL — A federal court in Alabama has issued an order granting in part a request from the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers (AAREB) to intervene to defend the state’s longstanding law that aims to ensure racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic representation on the state’s appraisers board. The order comes in a case, American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER) v. Ivey, where the same activists that have challenged affirmative action and other equal opportunity measures across our nation are seeking to render Alabama’s board representation law unconstitutional. AAREB is represented by Democracy Forward and Martin Weinberg. 

The Alabama law at issue seeks to ensure both that racial minorities are on the appraisers board and that the board reflects the communities who are governed by its decisions. The law has played an important role in addressing the ongoing and historical racial discrimination in housing and lending that has negatively impacted Black Alabamians and other historically marginalized groups. 

“State boards make decisions that affect all Alabamaians and should be reflective of the communities they serve. For the past three decades, Alabama law has aimed to ensure that state boards reflect the state’s rich diversity; yet now that law and the promise of opportunity for all is under attack,” said Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers Chair Marcus Brown. “Promoting inclusion of a range of views, and diverse racial, and other backgrounds is in the best interest of Alabamians. The state’s law matters because it addresses the lasting effects of racial discrimination and exclusion across generations that Alabamaians still experience today; it is also critical for maintaining fair markets and a healthy democracy.”

On February 13, 2024, the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER) sued to have Alabama’s representation law declared unconstitutional, alleging that a white woman was discriminated against when she applied to be one of nine members of the Alabama Real Estate Appraisers Board. AAER alleges in the suit that the state’s representation law–including a requirement to appoint at least two racial minorities to the nine-person Board and a general inclusion requirement for the Board –is unconstitutional. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has indicated to the court that she will not defend the existing law.

Represented by Democracy Forward and Martin Weinberg, on April 26, 2024, the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers filed a motion to intervene to ensure communities with the most at stake in Alabama have a voice in the litigation and that the state’s representation law is defended. Finding that the case raises “a topic of great magnitude” that “could impact public appointments well beyond the Alabama Real Estate Appraisers Board,” the court rejected the Governor and AAER’s opposition to the motion, allowing the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers to intervene to defend the state’s board representation law. 

“Alabama’s law that promotes representation is being threatened in what is the latest in a nationwide, anti-democratic, regressive legal strategy to undermine inclusivity and progress toward economic opportunity,” said Skye Perryman, President and CEO of Democracy Forward, which is representing AAREB in the case. “Our team at Democracy Forward is honored to represent the Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers to defend this law, which is clearly in the interest of Alabamians and is crucial to maintaining a representative democracy.”

The Alabama Association of Real Estate Brokers is the Alabama chapter of the National Association for Real Estate Brokers, which was founded in 1947 and is the oldest trade association for Black real estate professionals who were for decades wholly excluded from joining other professional associations because of their race. Although principally focused on Black real estate professionals, AAREB’s membership is open to all people committed to achieving “democracy in housing.”

AAER v. Ivey is one of a series of challenges to board composition provisions being litigated across the country, including in Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Montana.

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