With a heavy-handed new law that is the first of its kind in the nation, Seattle has set its regulatory crosshairs on Landlords, attempting to police their inner thoughts and eliminate the possibility that their decisions could be motivated by "implicit" or unintended bias.
Known as the "first in time" rule, the mandate forces landlords to rent to the first qualified applicant, rather than choosing the best fit from among prospective tenants.
Sponsors contended that this unprecedented restriction is needed because traditional anti-discrimination laws do not protect against unconscious prejudices. Landlords, it was alleged, can't be trusted to make decisions based on their "gut instincts," because there's no way to know whether those instincts are "pure." The only solution is to take away their right to make discretionary decisions altogether – including decisions based on rational, nondiscriminatory considerations.
The new rule has just drawn a lawsuit from a number of mom-and-pop landlords, based on its infringement on constitutionally protected property rights. But its assault on good sense is just as compelling and should serve as a warning to...
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