Federal Judge Strikes Down Oregon Real Estate Buyer-Seller Love Letters Ban. “Woke” Legislature Said They Promoted Housing Discrimination
Real estate agents often intermediate these letters. They often make emotional appeals to homesellers. Lawmakers say they are a minefield for Fair Housing Act violations.
Federal judge Marco Hernandez in Oregon threw out the ban. Hernandez ruled that the new law violates the free speech rights of real estate agents. He wrote a highly nuanced, 29-page written order.
Are Oregon Love Letters Considered Free Speech?
The judge said the ban restricts the speech of agents. He stated that in practice, realtors write or at least edit the letters in question.
Meanwhile, it’s back to the drawing board for Oregon legislators and the Oregon Real Estate Agency. The Oregon Real Estate Agency is the state body in charge of enforcing the law. Plaintiff Total Real Estate Group also named the Oregon Real Estate Agency as a defendant in the case.
The agency declined to opine on the ruling. However, a spokesperson did provide a statement saying:
However, the judge’s opinion is just a preliminary injunction. The court has not made a final judgment in the case.
Despite the ruling, much of Hernandez’s order parrots arguments from the state legislature. For example, the judge begins his opinion discussing Oregon’s notoriously racist past against Chinese immigrants and Black people.
The judge then directly ties that history into the letters that homebuyers send to get the attention of sellers. An expert witness for the state found that 93% of all letters disclosed information that defies the Fair Housing Act.
Hernandez ruled House Bill 2550 is too broad. Hernandez also said that the ban is not “tailored” to specifically solve the problem.
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