In Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc., the Seventh Circuit held that Craigslist, Inc., could not be held liable under the Fair Housing Act’s ban on discriminatory advertisements for over 120 discriminatory housing advertisements complained about by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee that were posted on Craigslist’s website. The court held that although newspapers and virtually every other publishing medium are consistently found liable under the Fair Housing Act’s ban on discriminatory advertisements, interactive computer service providers, such as Craigslist, are afforded civil immunity as a publishers or speakers of third-party content under the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
This Note argues that the Seventh Circuit erred by following a line of cases that misinterpret the Communications Decency Act. Properly interpreted, in light of the textual construction and legislative history, the Communications Decency Act should provide immunity to an interactive computer service provider as a “publisher” or “speaker” of third-party material only when it screens its services for inappropriate and illegal content. Furthermore, this Note argues that even if the court’s interpretation of the Communications Decency Act’s immunities was proper, Craigslist still should have been found liable under the Fair Housing Act’s ban on discriminatory advertisements because the Fair Housing Act’s coverage is broader than the Communications Decency Act’s supposed immunity.
Joseph J. Opron III,
License to Kill (the Dream of Fair Housing): How the Seventh Circuit in Craigslist Gave Websites a Free Pass to Publish Discriminatory Housing Advertisements,
Seventh Circuit Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/seventhcircuitreview/vol4/iss1/7