ACLU, NAACP ask state high court to look at tax auction

The Detroit News

Lawyers for ACLU of Michigan and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. are asking the Michigan Supreme Court to hear their case against the Wayne County Treasurer’s office over its controversial tax foreclosure auction.

The groups argue the auction violates the federal Fair Housing Act by disproportionately foreclosing on black homeowners, a process fueled by inflated city tax assessments and an inaccessible tax exemptions for the poor.

Wayne County Judge Robert Colombo last fall dismissed the treasurer’s office from the lawsuit because he ruled that the case should have been brought in front of the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Lawyers for the ACLU and NAACP appealed, arguing their claim against the treasurer’s office should be heard in state court. The state Court of Appeals upheld Colombo’s decision.

The ACLU is now asking the Michigan State Supreme Court to hear the case.

“Wayne County’s discriminatory tax foreclosures continue to impact African-American homeowners in devastating ways, and neighborhoods and families continue to be broken apart because of it,” said Coty Montag, deputy director of litigation at the defense fund, in a press release. “We are asking the Michigan Supreme Court to hear our appeal so that we can put an end to Wayne County’s discriminatory foreclosure practice.”

A spokesman for the Treasurer said the office had no comment on Wednesday’s filing.

County officials have argued that they aren’t responsible for Detroit assessments and can’t know if homes are overvalued.