Groome Resources Ltd v. Parish of Jefferson ( 2000 )


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  •                      REVISED - December 22, 2000
    
                   IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
    
                            FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
    
                            _____________________
    
                                 No. 99-30776
                            _____________________
    
    
    
         GROOME RESOURCES LTD, LLC,
    
                                         Plaintiff - Appellee
    
         UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
    
                                         Intervenor
    
              v.
    
         PARISH OF JEFFERSON,
    
    
                                         Defendant - Appellant
    
    _________________________________________________________________
    
               Appeal from the United States District Court
                   for the Eastern District of Louisiana
    _________________________________________________________________
                             November 20, 2000
    
    Before KING, Chief Judge, and REYNALDO G. GARZA and PARKER,
    Circuit Judges.
    
    KING, Chief Judge:
    
         Defendant-Appellant Parish of Jefferson, Louisiana
    
    (“Parish”) appeals the district court’s grant of a permanent
    
    injunction in favor of Plaintiff-Appellee Groome Resources Ltd.,
    
    L.L.C. (“Groome Resources”).   The permanent injunction enjoined
    
    the Parish from interfering with or withholding approval of
    Groome Resources’ application for “reasonable accommodations”
    
    under 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B) to operate a for-profit group
    
    home for five individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
    
    Specifically, the Parish raises a constitutional challenge to the
    
    statutory basis of the district court’s injunction.   The Parish
    
    argues that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority in
    
    passing § 3604(f)(3)(B) of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of
    
    1988 (FHAA),1 which defines housing discrimination to include a
    
    refusal to make reasonable accommodations for handicapped
    
    individuals.   We join three circuits in concluding that Congress
    
    acted under its Commerce Clause power in enacting the FHAA, and
    
    because, under the facts presented, Groome Resources is a for-
    
    profit company engaged in and substantially affecting interstate
    
    
    
    
         1
             Section 3604 reads in relevant part:
    
               It shall be unlawful—
             . . .
               (f) To discriminate in the sale or rental, or to
               otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any
               buyer or renter because of a handicap-
             . . .
               (3) For purposes of this subsection, discrimination
               includes–
             . . .
               (B) a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in
                    rules, policies, practices, or services, when such
                    accommodations may be necessary to afford such
                    person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a
                    dwelling . . . .
    
    42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).
    
    
                                     2
    commerce, we AFFIRM the district court.   See U.S. CONST. art. I,
    
    § 8, cl. 3.
    
    
    
    
                   I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
    
         Groome Resources is a for-profit limited liability
    
    partnership that operates group homes for individuals afflicted
    
    with Alzheimer’s disease.   These homes provide full-time
    
    supervision, food, shelter, and supportive services for elderly
    
    patients who are unable to live independently due to their
    
    illness.   Each home cares for five Alzheimer’s patients and is
    
    staffed by a full-time, rotating caretaker.   Each patient pays
    
    $3,400 per month for his or her accommodations and care.    Groome
    
    Resources currently operates four group homes in the Greater New
    
    Orleans area and seeks to open a fifth in a residential district
    
    of the Parish of Jefferson.
    
         To facilitate this expansion, on February 8, 1999, Groome
    
    Resources signed a contract to purchase a home at 5109 Elmwood
    
    Parkway located in the Parish.   The contract was between Groome
    
    Resources and the seller, Cendant Mobility Services Corporation,
    
    a national relocation assistance organization.   The agreement to
    
    purchase was contingent on Groome Resources obtaining a variance
    
    to the local zoning laws, which would permit the operation of a
    
    group home for five unrelated individuals operated for profit.
    
    
    
                                     3
    Groome Resources had scheduled a closing date for the home for
    
    one month from the signing.
    
         The Parish zoning ordinance at issue regulates property use
    
    in single-family residential districts.       The zoning ordinance
    
    provides,
    
         This district is composed of certain lands and structures
         having a low density, single family residential character
         and additional open area where it is desirable and likely
         that such similar development will occur. Uses are limited
         to single family residences and such non-residential uses as
         are intended primarily to provide service to the adjacent
         neighborhood.
    
    JEFFERSON PARISH, LA., COMPREHENSIVE ZONING ORDINANCE, § VII-A, at 7A-1,
    
    no. 1 (1998).    The zoning ordinance defines “family” as,
    
         one or more persons related by blood or marriage living
         together and occupying a single housekeeping unit with
         single culinary facilities or a group of not more than four
         persons living together by mutual agreement and occupying a
         single housekeeping unit with single culinary facilities on
         a non-profit cost-sharing basis.
    
    Id. § III, at 3-6, no. 25.
    
         The Parish zoning ordinance also provides a process by which
    
    reasonable accommodations can be made for handicapped residents
    
    under the Fair Housing Amendments Act:
    
         Nothing in this ordinance shall be construed to prevent a
         reasonable accommodation for handicapped persons as defined
         by the Federal Fair Housing Act in accordance with Federal,
         State and Parish procedures. Application for reasonable
         accommodation shall be submitted to the Department of
         Inspection and Code Enforcement for review and approval.
    
    Id. § XX, at 20-25, no. 14.      On February 11, 1999, Groome
    
    Resources applied for a “reasonable accommodation” to allow the
    
    proposed group home for five non-related individuals to operate
    
                                        4
    in a single-family dwelling on a for-profit basis.   Groome
    
    Resources had successfully applied for a similar group home in
    
    another residential district in the Parish, a request that had
    
    been granted within forty-five days.
    
         Under the procedures set up by the Parish, an application
    
    for reasonable accommodations must be reviewed by the Department
    
    of Inspection and Code Enforcement and the Parish Attorney’s
    
    Office. There is no formalized procedure or timetable for an
    
    application, although the target timetable is forty-five days.
    
    In addition, the councilman in whose district the property sits
    
    and the residents of the district are notified about the
    
    application.
    
         On March 15, 1999, the Parish Attorney’s Office recommended
    
    approval of Groome Resources’ application for reasonable
    
    accommodations for the Elmwood Parkway group home.   On March 16,
    
    1999, the director of the Department of Inspection and Code
    
    Enforcement also recommended approval of the application.
    
    Several days later, however, members of the Elmwood Park Civic
    
    Association, through their councilman, voiced opposition to the
    
    application.   On March 19, 1999, residents of the neighborhood,
    
    the councilman and the Parish Attorney met to discuss the planned
    
    group home.2   Due to the opposition of the residents, no official
    
         2
            A March 20, 1999 letter from Libby Olivier Tittle, 1st
    Vice President of the Elmwood Park Civic Association, to
    Councilman Edmond J. Muniz, included in the record, evidences the
    community sentiment toward the group home. Entitled “Elmwood
    
                                     5
    decision was made regarding the Groome Resources reasonable
    
    accommodations application.
    
         On April 28, 1999, Groome Resources wrote to the Parish to
    
    inquire about its pending application.3   The letter threatened
    
    legal action pursuant to the FHAA if the reasonable
    
    accommodations request was not decided upon.   Groome Resources
    
    explained that, due to the delay, it had accrued monetary damages
    
    related to the rescheduling of the closing date on the property.
    
    The Parish responded by letter on April 30, 1999, stating that
    
    the application remained under review and further information
    
    might be requested.   On May 4, 1999, the Parish requested
    
    additional information on the Groome Resources company and the
    
    
    Park Civic Association’s Opposition to Group Home at 5109 Elmwood
    Parkway,” the letter summarizes the meeting between the neighbors
    and the councilman. In relevant part it states:
    
         The permit has not yet been granted and will be delayed to
         allow both Tom Wilkinson, Parish Attorney, and our Civic
         Association to prepare to challenge the opening and
         operating of this group home.
         . . .
         (2) You [Councilman Muniz] oppose the granting of the
         permit. Tom Wilkinson will recommend that the Parish
         Council not approve the permit because it could be a good
         test case to challenge these group homes in R-1 classified
         zones.
    
    Letter from Libby Olivier Tittle, 1st Vice President of the
    Elmwood Park Civic Association to Councilman Edmond J. Muniz
    (March 20, 1999).
         3
            The United States Justice Department, Civil Rights
    Division also wrote to the Parish on May 6, 1999, inquiring about
    the status of Groome Resources’ application. The Parish
    Attorney, Thomas Wilkinson, informed the Justice Department that
    the application was under review.
    
                                     6
    proposal for the Elmwood Parkway group home.    On May 12, 1999,
    
    Groome Resources submitted the requested information to the
    
    Parish.    On May 14, 1999, Groome Resources filed suit in federal
    
    district court seeking injunctive relief “enjoining and
    
    restraining the [Parish] from withholding approval of [the]
    
    Application for Reasonable Accommodation.”
    
         Groome Resources argued that the Parish’s continued delay
    
    frustrated the purpose of the FHAA and was tantamount to a denial
    
    of its reasonable accommodations application.    As such, Groome
    
    Resources argued it was discriminated against under the FHAA and
    
    sought an injunction to remedy that discrimination.    In response,
    
    the Parish argued that the suit was premature as no final
    
    decision had been made on the application, that Groome Resources
    
    could not meet the procedural or substantive requirements for an
    
    injunction, and that the enactment of the reasonable
    
    accommodations provision exceeded the constitutional authority of
    
    Congress.
    
         The district court held an evidentiary hearing on Groome
    
    Resources’ motion for a preliminary injunction and consolidated
    
    it with a trial on the merits.   The district court held that the
    
    FHAA was “a valid exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce
    
    Clause.”    Further, it found that despite the fact that the Parish
    
    had never formally denied Groome Resources’ application, the case
    
    was ripe for decision.   Deposition testimony revealed that there
    
    was no planned action on the application, and the district court
    
                                      7
    found that the attorney in charge of the review process “could
    
    not say what the current status of the application was, what if
    
    anything remained to be done to complete the process or when it
    
    might be done, and could not say who the ultimate decision maker
    
    would be.”   The district court concluded that “the Parish delayed
    
    acting on the application in the hope that the matter will become
    
    moot if the proposed purchase falls through.”   Therefore, “to
    
    deny plaintiff’s claim as premature would effectively frustrate
    
    the clear mandates of the Fair Housing Act.”
    
         In determining the merits of the reasonable accommodations
    
    application, the district court found that the addition of one
    
    person to the four person limit was reasonable and necessary to
    
    allow individuals with Alzheimer’s disease an equal opportunity
    
    to live in a residential setting, and that “[t]he trial evidence
    
    convinces the Court that the artificial limit of four unrelated
    
    persons living in a single group home will make it economically
    
    unfeasible for [Groome Resources] to operate the proposed home.”
    
    The district court concluded,
    
         The other homes operated by Groome have been well received
         by their residential neighbors. Since none of the residents
         drive, there are few if any automobiles at the homes. There
         is absolutely no evidence that this proposed group home with
         five Alzheimer’s patients would cause any problems or in any
         way impact the health, safety, welfare or character of the
         neighborhood. If the home was occupied by a family, there
         would be no limit on the number of persons who reside there,
         or the number of automobiles or visitors at the home. In
         fact, the same residential zoning permits small home
         businesses, schools, and day care centers, all of which
         cause more congestion and traffic problems than is expected
         from the group home. The requested accommodation is clearly
    
                                     8
         reasonable and necessary to allow the handicapped to have
         equal opportunity to live in residential settings of their
         choice, as mandated by the Fair Housing Act Amendments of
         1988.
    
    Accordingly, the district court permanently enjoined the Parish
    
    from interfering with or withholding approval of a reasonable
    
    accommodations application for Groome Resources.
    
         On appeal, the Parish challenges the constitutional basis of
    
    the district court’s holding — namely the constitutional
    
    authority of Congress to pass 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).   First,
    
    the Parish argues that Congress exceeded its authority under the
    
    Commerce Clause in enacting the “reasonable accommodations”
    
    clause.   Second, the Parish argues in the alternative that
    
    § 3604(f)(3)(B)’s reasonable accommodations standard, as applied
    
    to facially neutral zoning ordinances, is void for vagueness.4
    
    After careful interpretation of the legislative history of the
    
    
    
         4
            We accept that the Parish has properly appealed the
    constitutionality of § 3604(f)(3)(B) and dismiss Groome
    Resources’ procedural challenges to this appeal. First, we
    disagree with Groome Resources’ contention that the district
    court’s injunction rested on a finding of disparate impact and,
    thus, remains in effect regardless of our decision on the
    constitutionality of the reasonable accommodations provision of
    the FHAA. The focus of the injunction was clearly the failure of
    the Parish to provide reasonable accommodations for the proposed
    group home and not a finding that there was a discriminatory
    intent or effect on handicapped individuals in the Parish.
    Second, we disagree with Groome Resources’ argument that the
    Parish’s failure to brief in detail a Fourteenth Amendment
    challenge to the FHAA is fatal to its overarching constitutional
    challenge. The district court expressly held that the FHAA “was
    a valid exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause.”
    It is from that finding that the Parish based its appeal.
    
                                     9
    FHAA, and an analysis of the Supreme Court’s recent Commerce
    
    Clause cases, we affirm the holding of the district court.5
    
    
    
                           II.   STANDARD OF REVIEW
    
         We review the constitutionality of a federal statute de
    
    novo.    See United States v. Luna, 
    165 F.3d 316
    , 319 (5th Cir.
    
    1999); United States v. Bailey, 
    115 F.3d 1222
    , 1225 (5th Cir.
    
    1997).
    
    
    
                                 III.   RIPENESS
    
         As an initial matter, we affirm the district court’s holding
    
    that the issue before this court is ripe for review.
    
    Jurisdiction is a question of law which we review de novo.     See
    
    United States v. Jimenez-Martinez, 
    179 F.3d 980
    , 981 (5th Cir.
    
    1999); see also Powder River Basin Resource Council v. Babbitt,
    
    
    54 F.3d 1477
    , 1483 (10th Cir. 1995) (“Because ripeness is a
    
    jurisdictional issue, our standard of review is de novo.”).
    
         While not briefed or argued by the Parish, federal courts
    
    have a duty to consider objections to our jurisdiction sua
    
    sponte.    See United Transp. Union v. Foster, 
    205 F.3d 851
    , 857
    
    (5th Cir. 2000) (“[E]very federal appellate court has a special
    
    
         5
            Because we conclude that Congress possesses the
    authority to enact the FHAA as an activity substantially
    affecting interstate commerce, we need not reach the alternative
    argument that Congress possessed authority to enact the Act under
    § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.
    
                                        10
    obligation to satisfy itself not only of its own jurisdiction,
    
    but also that of the lower courts in a cause under review, even
    
    though the parties are prepared to concede it.” (quoting Steel
    
    Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env’t, 
    523 U.S. 83
    , 94 (1998)).
    
         “A court should dismiss a case for lack of ‘ripeness’ when
    
    the case is abstract or hypothetical.   The key considerations are
    
    ‘the fitness of the issues for judicial decision and the hardship
    
    to the parties of withholding court consideration.’. . .    A case
    
    is generally ripe if any remaining questions are purely legal
    
    ones; conversely, a case is not ripe if further factual
    
    development is required.”   New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v.
    
    Council of New Orleans, 
    833 F.2d 583
    , 586-87 (5th Cir. 1987)
    
    (citations omitted) (quoting Abbott Labs. v. Gardner, 
    387 U.S. 136
    , 149 (1967), modified on other grounds by Califano v.
    
    Sanders, 
    430 U.S. 99
     (1977)).   We find that the district court
    
    was correct in resolving the legal question of whether the Parish
    
    had failed to approve Groome Resources’ reasonable accommodations
    
    application for its group home, and that the hardship to Groome
    
    Resources constituted an immediate injury requiring judicial
    
    relief.
    
         First, as to the “fitness of the issues for judicial
    
    decision,” we agree with the Court of Appeals for the Fourth
    
    Circuit that “[u]nder the Fair Housing Act . . . a violation
    
    occurs when the disabled resident is first denied a reasonable
    
    accommodation, irrespective of the remedies granted in subsequent
    
                                    11
    proceedings.”   Bryant Woods Inn, Inc. v. Howard County, Md. 
    124 F.3d 597
    , 602 (4th Cir. 1997).6    This denial can be both actual
    
    or constructive, as an indeterminate delay has the same effect as
    
    an outright denial.   In the instant case, the district court was
    
    well within its discretion to decide that a reasonable
    
    accommodation was denied by the unjustified delay of the Parish
    
    officials.
    
         From the facts at trial, a full and complete application had
    
    been submitted and been reviewed.7     The district court recognized
    
    that ninety-five days had elapsed between the time the
    
    application was submitted and the filing of the lawsuit, and
    
    despite the target date of forty-five days, the application had
    
    been pending for 127 days without action at the time of the
    
    court’s decision.   During this time, Groome Resources was
    
    
    
    
         6
            As such, ripeness in the Fair Housing Act context must
    be distinguished from ripeness cases involving unconstitutional
    takings or other zoning issues. See Bryant, 124 F.3d at 602
    (“Fair Housing Act claims are thus unlike takings claims, which
    do not ripen until post-decisional procedures are invoked without
    achieving a just compensation.”).
         7
            Persuasive to the district court was the fact that the
    only two governmental departments that needed to approve the
    reasonable accommodations application had unofficially approved
    the application in March. The effect of the intervention of the
    district councilman and the Parish residents was evident as
    approval by the councilman or the residents was not required in
    the process. The continued delay based on neighborhood
    opposition, see Letter of Libby Olivier Tittle, supra note 2,
    therefore, demonstrated an attempt to frustrate Groome Resources’
    purchase and operation of a group home.
    
                                      12
    required to postpone its closing date several times.8    Further,
    
    the court found that four months after the filing of the lawsuit,
    
    the Parish officials in charge of the application could not
    
    provide any timetable or plan for acting on the application.
    
    While never formally denying the request, the Parish’s
    
    unjustified and indeterminate delay had the same effect of
    
    undermining the anti-discriminatory purpose of the FHAA.    As no
    
    further factual development was required, the district court
    
    exercised its discretion to resolve the legal issue presented.
    
         Regarding the second factor of the ripeness inquiry,
    
    “[n]umerous courts have stressed that housing discrimination
    
    causes a uniquely immediate injury.   Such discrimination, which
    
    under the FHA includes a refusal to make reasonable
    
    accommodations, makes these controversies ripe.”   Assisted Living
    
    Assocs. v. Moorestown Township, 
    996 F. Supp. 409
    , 427 (D.N.J.
    
    1998) (listing cases).   In addition to the discriminatory injury
    
    necessitating judicial relief, Groome Resources faces concrete
    
    economic hardship from the continued delay.   The district court
    
    found that Groome Resources would be liable for a $2000 penalty
    
    for the delay in closing, not to mention the economic loss of
    
    being unable to operate the facility.   Further delay in obtaining
    
    judicial resolution of this issue will likely cause additional
    
         8
            The district court was even forced to intervene on
    behalf of Groome Resources to secure one of the postponements in
    the closing date and found in its opinion that “[the closing]
    likely will not be extended further.”
    
                                    13
    harm to Groome Resources.   Because the financial penalties
    
    resulting from the delay in closing and in commencing operations,
    
    present concrete hardships for the plaintiffs that frustrate the
    
    purpose of the FHAA, we agree with the district court that the
    
    issue is ripe for review.
    
    
    
        IV.   CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE FAIR HOUSING AMENDMENTS ACT
    
         We today join three other circuits that have upheld the
    
    constitutionality of the Fair Housing Amendments Act.   See Oxford
    
    House-C v. City of St. Louis, 
    77 F.3d 249
    , 251 (8th Cir. 1996)
    
    (holding that “Congress had a rational basis for deciding that
    
    housing discrimination against the handicapped, like other forms
    
    of housing discrimination, has a substantial effect on interstate
    
    commerce”); Morgan v. Sec. of Hous. & Urban Dev., 
    985 F.2d 1451
    ,
    
    1455 (10th Cir. 1993) (“The legislative record, when viewed
    
    against a backdrop of the legislative history of the 1968 Fair
    
    Housing Act, provides a rational basis for finding that the sale
    
    and rental of residential housing . . . concerns more than one
    
    state and has a real and substantial relation to the national
    
    interest.” (citations and internal quotation marks omitted));
    
    Seniors Civil Liberties Ass’n v. Kemp, 
    965 F.2d 1030
    , 1034 (11th
    
    Cir. 1992) (“We find no merit in plaintiffs’ argument that,
    
    because the real estate market involves private intrastate
    
    
    
    
                                    14
    transactions, no interstate commerce is involved in residential
    
    sales and rentals.”).
    
         Our analysis of the constitutionality of the FHAA is guided
    
    by the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in United States v.
    
    Morrison, 
    120 S. Ct. 1740
     (2000), and United States v. Lopez, 
    514 U.S. 549
     (1995).   After a brief examination of the purpose of the
    
    FHAA, and the controlling Commerce Clause jurisprudence, we
    
    consider the constitutionality of the FHAA and the reasonable
    
    accommodations provision now challenged by the Parish.
    
    
    
               A. Purpose of the Fair Housing Amendments Act
    
         In response to a history of national discrimination against
    
    individuals with disabilities, Congress enacted the FHAA in
    
    1988.9   The purpose of the Act was to prohibit discrimination in
    
         9
             Section 3604 provides in pertinent part:
    
         [I]t shall be unlawful–
            . . . .
         (f) (1) To discriminate in the sale or rental, or to
                   otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to
                   any buyer or renter because of a handicap of–
    
                    (A) that buyer or renter,
                    (B) a person residing in or intending to reside in
                    that dwelling after it is so sold, rented, or made
                    available; or
                    (C) any person associated with that buyer or
                    renter.
    
               (2) To discriminate against any person in the terms,
                  conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a
                  dwelling, or in the provision of services or
                  facilities in connection with such dwelling,
                  because of a handicap of—
    
                                    15
    the national housing market for handicapped10 individuals.    As
    
    the House Report stated,
    
         The Fair Housing Amendments Act . . . is a clear
         pronouncement of a national commitment to end the
         unnecessary exclusion of persons with handicaps from the
         American mainstream. It repudiates the use of stereotypes
         and ignorance, and mandates that persons with handicaps be
         considered as individuals. Generalized perceptions about
         disabilities and unfounded speculations about threats to
         safety are specifically rejected as grounds to justify
         exclusion.
    
    H.R. REP. NO. 100-711, at 18 (1988), reprinted in 1988
    
    U.S.C.C.A.N. 2173, 2179.
    
    
    
    
                     (A) that person; or
                     (B) a person residing in or intending to reside in
                     that dwelling after it is so sold, rented, or made
                     available; or
                     (C) any person associated with that person.
    
                (3) For purposes of this subsection, discrimination
                   includes—
                . . .
                      (B) a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in
                      rules, policies, practices, or services, when such
                      accommodations may be necessary to afford such
                      person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a
                      dwelling; . . . .
    
    42 U.S.C § 3604(f)(1),(2),(3)(B).
         10
               In relevant part, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h) provides:
    
         (h)     “Handicap” means, with respect to a person—
               (1) a physical or mental impairment which substantially
                    limits one or more of such person's major life
                    activities,
               (2) a record of having such an impairment, or
               (3) being regarded as having such an impairment.
    
    42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
    
                                      16
         Expanding on the previously enacted Fair Housing Act
    
    (FHA),11 which prohibited discrimination in housing based on
    
    race, color, religion, and national origin,12 the FHAA responded
    
    to a recognized prejudice against those with physical
    
    disabilities and illness and against “[p]eople with mental
    
    retardation [who] have been excluded because of stereotypes about
    
    their capacity to live safely and independently.”    See id.
    
    (citing City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 
    473 U.S. 432
    ,
    
    435 (1985) (which held that there was no rational basis for a
    
    zoning ordinance that had the effect of excluding citizens with
    
    mental retardation from living in the community)).   As in
    
    Cleburne, Congress took particular note of how local zoning laws
    
    had been used to discriminate and thus affect housing
    
    opportunities for the disabled:
    
         These new subsections would also apply to state or local
         land use and health and safety laws, regulations, practices
         or decisions which discriminate against individuals with
         handicaps. While state and local governments have authority
         to protect safety and health, and to regulate use of land,
         that authority has sometimes been used to restrict the
         ability of individuals with handicaps to live in
         communities. This has been accomplished by such means as
         the enactment or imposition of health, safety or land-use
         requirements on congregate living arrangements among non-
         related persons with disabilities.
    
    
    
    
         11
            See Fair Housing Act of 1968, Pub. L. No. 90-284, 82
    Stat. 81 (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3631 (1994)).
         12
            In 1974, Congress amended the Fair Housing Act to
    prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. See Pub. L. No. 93-
    383, 88 Stat. 83 (1974).
    
                                      17
    H.R. REP. NO. 100-711, at 24, reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2173,
    
    2185 (emphasis added).13
    
         The “reasonable accommodations” language, now codified in 42
    
    U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B), specifically targeted the type of zoning
    
    regulations at issue here.   Congress found that these seemingly
    
    “neutral rules and regulations,” even those involving commercial/
    
    noncommercial zoning distinctions, nonetheless had a
    
    discriminatory effect on the housing choices available for the
    
    disabled.   See id. (“The Committee intends that the prohibition
    
    against discrimination against those with handicaps apply to
    
    zoning decisions and practices.”).   Primarily, the discriminatory
    
    effect recognized by Congress resulted from the fact that the
    
    disabled were not able to live safely and independently without
    
    organized, and sometimes commercial, group homes like the one at
    
    issue.14
    
         13
            Section 3604 also governs organizations like Groome
    Resources that provide services to the disabled. See 42 U.S.C.
    § 3604(a)-(f).
         14
            In Cleburne, which informed the passage of the FHAA, the
    Supreme Court adopted this circuit’s findings that “without group
    homes . . . the retarded could never hope to integrate themselves
    into the community.” 473 U.S. at 438 (citing Cleburne Living
    Ctr., Inc., v. City of Cleburne, 
    726 F.2d 191
    , 193 (5th Cir.
    1984)). The Fifth Circuit’s findings, in turn, were informed by
    the district court’s findings, which go directly to the issue
    here regarding the importance of commercially run homes for
    handicapped individuals,
    
         “Group homes currently are the principal community living
         alternatives for persons who are mentally retarded. The
         availability of such a home in communities is an essential
         ingredient of normal living patterns for persons who are
    
                                    18
         In the scheme of the FHAA, the reasonable accommodations
    
    provision exists as a prohibition on discrimination against the
    
    disabled in the purchase, sale, or rental of housing.   As set out
    
    in § 3604(f)(3)(B), the failure to reasonably accommodate the
    
    disabled in the context of housing is, itself, a defined act of
    
    discrimination.   The question before this court is whether the
    
    activity of regulating discrimination against the disabled in the
    
    purchase, sale, or rental of housing can be shown to
    
    substantially affect interstate commerce, and therefore be upheld
    
    as a legitimate exercise of congressional authority.
    
    
    
          B. Congressional Authority Under the Commerce Clause
    
         The Commerce Clause grants Congress the constitutional
    
    authority “‘to regulate Commerce . . . among the several states,’
    
    and [] concomitant power to protect the nation’s commerce by
    
    enacting such laws as it deems ‘necessary and proper.’”   United
    
    
    
    
         mentally retarded, and each factor that makes such group
         homes harder to establish operates to exclude persons who
         are mentally retarded from the community.”
    
    Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 439 n. 6 (quoting Cleburne, 726 F.2d at
    193). Other circuits have recognized that commercial group homes
    may be the only way for disabled individuals to live in a
    residential community: “As the Court of Appeals for the Sixth
    Circuit has observed, ‘the handicapped may have little choice but
    to live in a commercial home if they desire to live in a
    residential neighborhood.” Hovsons, Inc. v. Township of Brick, 
    89 F.3d 1096
    , 1105 (3d Cir. 1996) (quoting Smith & Lee Assocs.,
    Inc. v. City of Taylor, Mich., 
    13 F.3d 920
    , 931 (6th Cir. 1993)).
    
    
                                    19
    States v. Robinson, 
    119 F.3d 1205
    , 1209 (5th Cir. 1997) (quoting
    
    U.S. CONST. art. I, § 8, cl. 3, 18).
    
         In interpreting the commerce power, courts are bound both by
    
    the “first principles” of a Constitution that establishes a
    
    federal government with “enumerated powers,” and our judicial
    
    role, which requires deference to properly enacted congressional
    
    regulations.   See Lopez, 514 U.S. at 552, 556.   As Judge
    
    Higginbotham recognized in United States v. Kirk,
    
         On the one hand, courts have a constitutional duty to
         scrutinize congressional actions to ensure that Congress
         stays within its constitutionally enumerated powers; if
         Lopez means anything, it is that Congress’s power under the
         Commerce Clause must have some limits. On the other hand,
         we must discipline our scrutiny to ensure that we are about
         the business of judicial review and not the business of
         social policy. Stated another way, respecting the policy-
         making role of majoritarian legislative bodies is not an
         empty recitation.
    
    
    105 F.3d 997
    , 999 (5th Cir. 1997) (equally divided en banc court)
    
    (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).   Thus, while
    
    recognized as “one of the most prolific sources of national
    
    power,” H.P. Hood & Sons v. Du Mond, 
    336 U.S. 525
    , 534 (1949),
    
    the commerce power is cabined within constitutionally determined
    
    “outer limits.”   See United States v. Morrison, 
    120 S. Ct. 1740
    ,
    
    1748-49 (2000) (citing United States v. Lopez, 
    514 U.S. 549
    , 556
    
    (1995)) (“Lopez emphasized . . . that even under our modern,
    
    expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause, Congress’
    
    regulatory authority is not without effective bounds.”).
    
    
    
    
                                    20
         We turn first to the framework establishing those outer
    
    limits.   In reviewing an act of Congress passed under its
    
    Commerce Clause authority, we apply the rational basis test as
    
    interpreted by the Lopez court.    See, e.g., Robinson, 119 F.3d at
    
    1210; United States v. Bailey, 
    115 F.3d 1222
    , 1225 (5th Cir.
    
    1997); United States v. Knutson, 
    113 F.3d 27
    , 29 (5th Cir. 1997);
    
    United States v. Bird, 
    124 F.3d 667
    , 673 (5th Cir. 1997); United
    
    States v. Coleman, 
    78 F.3d 154
    , 159 (5th Cir. 1996).   Our
    
    analysis is, therefore, guided by this precedent and the
    
    constitutional principles set forth in Lopez15 and elucidated in
    
    the Supreme Court’s recent discussion in Morrison.16
    
    
    
     1. Commerce Clause After Lopez: Three Categories of Interstate
    
                                 Activity
    
         The Lopez Court described “three broad categories of
    
    activity” that Congress may regulate pursuant to its Commerce
    
    Clause power.   See Lopez, 514 U.S. at 558.   “First, Congress may
    
    regulate the use of the channels of interstate commerce.”    Id.
    
    
         15
            Lopez invalidated the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990,
    18 U.S.C. § 922(q)(1)(A), which made it a federal crime to
    knowingly possess a firearm in a school zone. See 514 U.S. at
    552.
         16
            Morrison invalidated the federal civil remedy provision
    of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 13981(b).
    The Supreme Court found that Congress lacked the constitutional
    authority to enact the section’s civil remedy, finding neither
    Commerce Clause authority nor authority under § 5 of the
    Fourteenth Amendment. See 120 S. Ct. at 1754.
    
                                      21
    (citing United States v. Darby, 
    312 U.S. 100
    , 114-15 (1941) and
    
    Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, 
    379 U.S. 241
    , 256
    
    (1964)).    “This category extends beyond the regulation of
    
    highways, railroads, air routes, navigable rivers, fiber-optic
    
    cables and the like.”     Robinson, 119 F.3d at 1210.   This category
    
    was one of the categories used to prohibit racial discrimination
    
    in public accommodations and has been used to prevent illicit
    
    goods from traveling through the channels of commerce.       See id.
    
    (citing Heart of Atlanta Motel, 379 U.S. at 256).
    
           “Second, Congress is empowered to regulate and protect the
    
    instrumentalities of interstate commerce, or persons or things in
    
    interstate commerce, even though the threat may come only from
    
    intrastate activities.”     Lopez, 514 U.S. at 558 (citing
    
    Shreveport Rate Cases, 
    234 U.S. 342
     (1914), S. Ry. Co. v. United
    
    States, 
    222 U.S. 20
     (1911), and Perez v. United States, 
    402 U.S. 146
     (1971)).    “Congressional regulation or protection of persons
    
    or things that move in interstate commerce must ensure that, in
    
    fact, a particular threat — whether posed by an interstate or
    
    intrastate activity — actually threatens persons or things with a
    
    plain and clear nexus to interstate commerce.”     Bird, 124 F.3d at
    
    674.
    
           “Finally, Congress’ commerce authority includes the power to
    
    regulate those activities having a substantial relation to
    
    interstate commerce, i.e., those activities that substantially
    
    affect interstate commerce.”     Lopez, 514 U.S. at 558-59 (citing
    
                                      
    22 N.L.R.B. v
    . Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 
    301 U.S. 1
     (1937), and
    
    Maryland v. Wirtz, 
    392 U.S. 183
     (1968)).    This category includes
    
    two separate analytical components: first, whether the regulated
    
    activity involves “commerce” or “economic” activity and, second,
    
    whether the regulation is “an essential part of a larger
    
    regulation of economic activity.”     Id. at 561.   As will be
    
    discussed in more detail below, Morrison further refined this
    
    third category of interstate activity.
    
         In delineating these categories, the Lopez Court also
    
    reaffirmed traditional principles of Commerce Clause
    
    jurisprudence.   See United States v. Knutson, 
    113 F.3d 27
    , 29
    
    (5th Cir. 1997) (“In [Lopez] the Court identified an outer limit
    
    to congressional authority under the Commerce Clause; . . . the
    
    Court did not purport to eliminate or erode well-established
    
    Commerce Clause precedents.”).   More specifically, the Lopez
    
    Court reaffirmed the rational basis test by which we are bound to
    
    evaluate the constitutionality of congressional actions.         See
    
    Lopez, 514 U.S. at 557 (recognizing the duty of courts to
    
    evaluate whether “a rational basis exist[s] for concluding that a
    
    regulated activity sufficiently affect[s] interstate commerce”).
    
    Further, this circuit has interpreted Lopez as reaffirming “the
    
    proposition set forth in Wickard v. Filburn17 concerning
    
         17
            
    317 U.S. 111
    , 125 (1942) (“[E]ven if appellee’s activity
    be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may
    still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a
    substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.”).
    
                                     23
    congressional regulation of intrastate, noncommercial activity.”
    
    United States v. Bird, 
    124 F.3d 667
    , 676 (5th Cir. 1997) (“After
    
    Wickard — and its reaffirmance in Lopez — there can be no
    
    question that Congress is able to regulate noncommercial,
    
    intrastate activity that substantially affects interstate
    
    commerce.”).
    
    
    
     2. Commerce Clause After Morrison: Refinement of Lopez’s Third
    
             Category of Permissible Congressional Regulation
    
         In Morrison, the Supreme Court clarified this circuit’s
    
    interpretation of Lopez and provided further analytical guidance
    
    as to the third category of activity — “substantially affecting
    
    interstate commerce.”   The Morrison Court looked to four
    
    additional factors to determine whether the congressional act at
    
    issue exceeded the scope of its constitutional authority.
    
         First, the Court considered the “economic nature of the
    
    regulated activity.”    See Morrison, 120 S. Ct. at 1750 (“‘Where
    
    economic activity substantially affects interstate commerce,
    
    legislation regulating that activity will be sustained.’”)
    
    (quoting Lopez, 514 U.S. at 560).     The Court emphasized the
    
    economic or commercial character of previous Commerce Clause
    
    cases.   See id. (collecting cases).    The Court found that in both
    
    Lopez and Morrison, neither the “actors” nor the “conduct” of the
    
    regulation had a commercial character, and neither the “purpose”
    
    
    
                                     24
    nor the “design” of the statute had an evident commercial nexus.
    
    See id.
    
         Second, the Morrison court determined that the lack of an
    
    express jurisdictional element in the Lopez statute weakened the
    
    claim that Congress was acting within its Commerce Clause powers.
    
    See id. at 1750-51 (“Such a jurisdictional element may establish
    
    that the enactment is in pursuance of Congress’ regulation of
    
    interstate commerce.”).
    
         Third, the Court found that while Congress was not required
    
    to make formal findings, “the existence of such findings may
    
    ‘enable us to evaluate the legislative judgment that the activity
    
    in question substantially affect[s] interstate commerce, even
    
    though no such substantial effect [is] visible to the naked
    
    eye.’”    Id. at 1751 (quoting Lopez, 514 U.S. at 553).
    
         Finally, the Court cautioned against accepting an
    
    “attenuated” connection between the regulation and the interstate
    
    activity.    See id.   Concerned that causal, “but-for” arguments
    
    could lead to an evisceration of any limitations on federal
    
    power, the Court held Congress to a more direct link.
    
         With these interpretive principles in mind, we now turn to
    
    analyze the Parish’s challenge to the reasonable accommodations
    
    provision of the FHAA.    Our task is to determine whether Congress
    
    had a rational basis, as defined by Lopez-Morrison, to enact
    
    § 3604(f)(3)(B).
    
    
    
                                     25
      C. The FHAA Substantially Affects Interstate Commerce and Is
    
             Constitutional Under a Lopez-Morrison Analysis
    
         The Parish argues that none of the Lopez categories would
    
    provide Congress the authority to enact the FHAA.   We agree that
    
    the first and second Lopez categories, involving the use of the
    
    channels of interstate commerce, and instrumentalities of
    
    interstate commerce are inapplicable here.   It is the third Lopez
    
    category, involving activities that substantially affect
    
    interstate commerce, on which we base our rejection of the
    
    Parish’s Commerce Clause argument.   To reach our conclusion, we
    
    analyze each of the four additional Morrison factors in turn.
    
    
    
      1. The Reasonable Accommodations Provision Regulates Economic
    
       Activity Involving the Purchase, Sale, or Rental of Housing
    
          Under Lopez-Morrison, to figure out whether an activity
    
    substantially affects interstate commerce, the first question we
    
    must ask is whether the regulated activity is an activity
    
    economic in nature.   See 120 S. Ct. at 1750 (“[The Court’s]
    
    review of Commerce Clause case law demonstrates that in those
    
    cases where we have sustained federal regulation of intrastate
    
    activity based upon the activity’s substantial effects on
    
    interstate commerce, the activity in question has been some sort
    
    of economic endeavor.”).   This query derives from the general
    
    Lopez requirement that the regulated intrastate activities,
    
    “arise out of or are connected with a commercial transaction,
    
                                    26
    which viewed in the aggregate, substantially affects interstate
    
    commerce.”   Lopez, 514 U.S. at 561.
    
         More specifically, the first Morrison question regarding
    
    “economic” activity, is answered by a close reading of Lopez,
    
    which provides two recognized and historically rooted means of
    
    congressional regulation under the commerce power: (1) whether
    
    the activity is “any sort of economic enterprise, however broadly
    
    one might define those terms”; or (2) whether the activity exists
    
    as “an essential part of a larger regulation of economic
    
    activity, in which the regulatory scheme could be undercut unless
    
    the intrastate activity were regulated.”   Lopez, 514 U.S. at 561.
    
    Using these two questions as our analytical framework, we
    
    determine under Lopez-Morrison, that Congress acted within its
    
    constitutional power to enact the FHAA reasonable accommodations
    
    provision.
    
    
    
      a. The Purchase, Sale, or Rental of Residential Housing Is an
    
                       Economic/Commercial Activity
    
         The Parish argues that the activity being regulated is
    
    “wholly non-economic” and presumably non-commercial.   We disagree
    
    finding that § 3604(f)(3)(B) affected the commercial transaction
    
    of purchasing a home and the commercial rental of housing, and,
    
    therefore, fits well within the broad definition of economic
    
    activity established by the Supreme Court and other circuits.
    
    
    
                                    27
         The activity being regulated is one that directly affects
    
    the commercial residential and rental housing market.         “In every
    
    case where we have sustained federal regulation under Wickard’s
    
    aggregation principle, the regulated activity was of an apparent
    
    commercial character.”     Morrison, 120 S. Ct. at 1750 n.4.       A
    
    denial of reasonable accommodations affects a disabled
    
    individual’s ability to buy, sell, or rent housing.         It is an act
    
    of discrimination that directly interferes with a commercial
    
    transaction, and is an act that can be regulated to facilitate
    
    economic activity.    The Parish’s decision to deny Groome
    
    Resources a reasonable accommodation, therefore, is directly tied
    
    to the economic activity of buying a home, and the commercial
    
    activity of operating an Alzheimer’s care facility.
    
         As all American homeowners can attest, it is a transparently
    
    commercial action to buy, sell, or rent a house.        Not only is it
    
    quite literally a “commercial transaction,” but viewed in the
    
    aggregate, it implicates an entire commercial industry.18         A
    
    purchase of a house is “commercial intercourse,” Gibbons v.
    
         18
              The residential housing market in the United States is
    of tremendous economic significance to the national economy. In
    1997, the United States Census reported that the single-family
    housing construction industry was valued at over $146 billion and
    employed over 570,000 people. See U.S. DEP’T OF COMMERCE, BUREAU OF
    THE CENSUS: 1997 ECONOMIC CENSUS, CONSTRUCTION, tbl. 3, at 9, tbl. 2, at
    8; see also United States v. Patterson, 
    792 F.2d 531
    , 534 (5th
    Cir. 1986) (“Housing construction is certainly a commercial
    activity.”). Further, residential real estate lessors, agents,
    brokers, and managers had revenues of over $91 billion. See U.S.
    DEP’T OF COMMERCE, BUREAU OF THE CENSUS: 1997 ECONOMIC CENSUS, REAL ESTATE
    AND RENTAL AND LEASING, tbl. 1, at 7.
    
                                       28
    Ogden, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1, 193 (1824), at its purest form,
    
    involving capital outlay, financing and mortgage arrangements,
    
    profit, debt and investment considerations, and thus speaks to
    
    both the “commercial character” and economic nature of the
    
    transaction.19
    
         In the instant case, not only are we faced with a commercial
    
    transaction, but an interstate commercial transaction.      Groome
    
    Resources, a New Orleans-based limited liability partnership,
    
    contracted to purchase a house from Cendant Mobility Services
    
    Corporation, a national relocating company.      This interstate
    
    purchase was financed by an interstate lender, Whitney National
    
    Bank.     Most importantly, this interstate commercial transaction
    
    was impeded by an act of housing discrimination — namely the
    
    Parish’s failure to reasonably accommodate disabled individuals
    
    wishing to live in a group home.       Therefore, as a factual matter,
    
    Groome Resources’ proposed purchase of rental property to be used
    
    as a group home satisfies the requirement that we are confronting
    
    a commercial and economic activity.
    
         The commercial nature of this activity is further
    
    strengthened by the fact that Groome Resources exists as a for-
    
         19
            Moreover, most housing purchases involve realtors,
    brokers, title insurance, title registration and legal fees, and
    may involve federally backed mortgages and the secondary mortgage
    market. In addition to supporting the commercial nature of a
    housing purchase, many of the above factors also involve actors
    with interstate ties. See McLain v. Real Estate Bd. Inc., 
    444 U.S. 232
    , 245 (1980); Goldfarb v. Va. State Bar, 
    421 U.S. 773
    ,
    785 (1975).
    
                                      29
    profit entity providing rental housing to its clients and is,
    
    thus, itself a commercial actor.20   The Supreme Court has
    
    recently ratified our understanding of both the commercial and
    
    interstate nature of renting real property.    The Court’s
    
    decisions in Jones v. United States, 
    120 S. Ct. 1904
     (2000) and
    
    Russell v. United States, 
    471 U.S. 858
     (1985) make clear that
    
    renting and otherwise using housing for commercial purposes
    
    implicates the federal commerce power.21
    
         In Russell, the defendant was convicted of attempting to
    
    burn down an apartment complex from which he earned rental
    
    income.   He challenged his conviction stating that the building
    
    was not commercial or business property and, thus, not an
    
    activity affecting interstate commerce.    The Court found that
    
    “[t]he rental of real estate is unquestionably” an “activity that
    
    affects commerce.”   Russell, 471 U.S. at 862.   The Court found
    
    
         20
            In addition to the commercial aspect of purchasing the
    home, it must be noted that the granting of reasonable
    accommodations to Alzheimer’s group homes and other homes for
    disabled individuals also affects the commercial viability of
    care organizations like Groome Resources. The district court
    found that the zoning ordinance, with its limitation on four
    unrelated persons, “will make it economically unfeasible for
    plaintiff to operate the proposed home.” The court recognized
    that the economic viability of this care facility was impeded by
    the refusal to grant an accommodation.
         21
            In both cases, the Court was confronted with the
    statutory reach of the federal arson statute, 18 U.S.C. § 844(i),
    which prohibits the damage or destruction “by means of fire or an
    explosive, any . . . property used in interstate or foreign
    commerce or in any activity affecting interstate or foreign
    commerce.” 18 U.S.C. § 844(i) (2000).
    
                                    30
    dispositive the existing “commercial market” in rental property
    
    as the justification for congressional power to criminalize
    
    ostensibly local arson:
    
            [We] recognize that the local rental of an apartment unit is
            merely an element of a much broader commercial market in
            rental properties. The congressional power to regulate the
            class of activities that constitute the rental market for
            real estate includes the power to regulate individual
            activity within that class.
    
    Id.22        This recognition was reaffirmed in the recent Jones
    
    decision.
    
            In Jones, the Court reversed and remanded a conviction based
    
    on § 844(i) involving the fire-bombing of a private residence.
    
    The Court held that “an owner-occupied residence not used for any
    
    commercial purpose does not qualify as property ‘used in’
    
    commerce or commerce-affecting activity.”        Jones, 120 S. Ct. at
    
    1908.        The Jones Court distinguished Russell, finding that the
    
    dispositive fact in that case was that “[p]etitioner was renting
    
    his apartment building to tenants at the time he attempted to
    
    destroy it by fire.”        Id. at 1909 (quoting Russell, 471 U.S. at
    
    862)23; see also United States v. Corona, 
    108 F.3d 565
    , 570-71
    
            22
            The Court relied on the arson statute’s legislative
    history to find that the purpose of the statute, “suggests that
    Congress at least intended to protect all business property, as
    well as some additional property that might not fit that
    description, but perhaps not every private home.” Russell, 471
    U.S. at 862.
            23
            The Jones Court also posited a functionality test to
    determine whether arson of a building is a commerce-affecting
    act. The Court held that “[t]he proper inquiry . . . is into the
    function of the building itself, and then a determination of
    
                                          31
    (5th Cir. 1997) (upholding § 844(i) conviction and stating, “[w]e
    
    find that these convictions comport with the Commerce Clause
    
    because of the fact that the fire spread to the United Cab
    
    warehouse. . . . Not only was the . . . property actually being
    
    rented, but it was serving a commercial rather than a residential
    
    purpose.”).
    
         In each of these cases, congressional authority for
    
    regulation rested on the rental or commercial use of the
    
    property.   As the Groome Resources group home was both a rental
    
    property charging monthly rent to its clients and a commercial
    
    operation, we find that the home’s commercial use
    
    “unquestionably” is an “activity that affects commerce.”24   The
    
    failure to grant a reasonable accommodation to the home is an act
    
    
    whether that function affects interstate commerce.” Jones, 120
    S. Ct. at 1910. In the instant case, the house is functioning as
    a rental unit for disabled individuals, which under Russell can
    be regulated under the commerce power.
         24
              We are mindful of Justice Souter’s dissenting
    admonition that the Morrison majority had created an unworkable
    “formalistic economic/noneconomic distinction.” 120 S. Ct. at
    1768 (Souter, J., dissenting). While we need not resolve this
    problem in a factual situation that presents no such issue, the
    logic of the Jones/Morrison court could suggest that Congress has
    the constitutional authority to regulate discrimination against
    the disabled in housing that is rented or otherwise used for
    commercial purposes, but not regulate the sale or purchase of a
    home to be used for private uses by the disabled. Of course, the
    regulated activity of arson in Jones is readily distinguishable
    from the purchase or sale of a house. In future cases, however,
    courts may be called upon to resolve the issue of whether housing
    discrimination involving purely private actors for private, non-
    commercial use, substantially affects interstate commerce more
    than arson and, thus, confront the categorical logic of Jones/
    Morrison.
    
                                    32
    of discrimination against the disabled that frustrated an
    
    interstate commercial transaction, and affected a commercial
    
    endeavor.   Therefore, while not dispositive, these cases support
    
    the conclusion that we are dealing with a commercial activity
    
    that falls within the purview of Congress’s regulatory
    
    authority.25
    
         We are further supported in our determination that
    
    discrimination infringing on the rental, purchase, and sale of
    
    real estate is activity “economic in nature,” by the broad
    
    reading given to “economic activity” by other courts.    Most
    
    recently, the Morrison Court provided an expansive reading of
    
    economic activity that affected interstate commerce, including as
    
    it did Wickard’s regulation of homegrown and home-consumed wheat.
    
    See 120 S. Ct. at 1750; see also Lopez, 514 U.S. at 574
    
    (recognizing our evolution from “an understanding of commerce
    
    
         25
               The Supreme Court has also permitted congressional
    regulation of the interstate sale of real property through the
    Sherman Act. In Goldfarb v. Va. State Bar, the Court relied on
    the interstate nature of real estate title examinations to find
    that the Sherman Act applied to minimum fee schedules. See 
    421 U.S. 773
    , 785 (1975) (“Given the substantial volume of commerce
    involved, and the inseparability of this particular legal service
    from the interstate aspects of real estate transactions, we
    conclude that interstate commerce has been sufficiently
    affected.”). Similarly, the Court found Sherman Act jurisdiction
    against real estate firms and brokers, because “[i]t is clear
    that an appreciable amount of commerce is involved in the
    financing of residential property . . . and in the insuring of
    titles to such property. . . [and] this appreciable commercial
    activity has occurred in interstate commerce.” McLain v. Real
    Estate Bd. Inc., 
    444 U.S. 232
    , 245 (1980).
    
    
                                    33
    that would serve only an 18th century economy”); United States v.
    
    Bailey, 
    115 F.3d 1222
    , 1228 n.7 (5th Cir. 1997) (“The
    
    construction of the term ‘commerce’ is a practical one and
    
    embraces economic activity beyond that which is traditionally
    
    considered commerce.”).
    
         A broad reading of “economic” has been accepted in other
    
    circuits that have addressed the Commerce Clause after Morrison.
    
    For example, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Gibbs
    
    v. Babbitt upheld a federal statute limiting the taking of red
    
    wolves on private lands based on the economic consequences of the
    
    activity, including its effect on “red wolf related tourism,”
    
    “scientific research,” and “commercial trade in pelts.”     See 
    214 F.3d 483
    , 492 (4th Cir. 2000).   The court recognized the
    
    “breadth” of the concept of economic activity,
    
         Although the connection to economic or commercial activity
         plays a central role in whether a regulation will be upheld
         under the Commerce Clause, economic activity must be
         understood in broad terms. Indeed, a cramped view of
         commerce would cripple a foremost federal power and in so
         doing would eviscerate national authority.
    
    Id. at 491; see also United States v. Gregg, 
    226 F.3d 253
    , 262
    
    (3d Cir. 2000)26 (“We thus hold that although the connection to
    
    economic or commercial activity plays a central role in whether a
    
    
         26
            In a post-Morrison case, the Gregg court upheld the
    constitutionality of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances
    Act (FACE) against a Commerce Clause challenge based on a
    rationale that “the misconduct regulated by FACE, although not
    motivated by commercial concerns, has an effect which is, at its
    essence, economic.” 226 F.3d at 262.
    
                                     34
    law is valid under the Commerce Clause, we hold that economic
    
    activity can be understood in broad terms.”).
    
         This circuit has also recognized a broad reading of
    
    commercial and economic activities under the Commerce Clause.
    
    See Bailey, 115 F.3d at 1228 n.7 (finding, under the Child
    
    Support Recovery Act, that “[c]hild support obligations and their
    
    ensuing payments constitute economic activity and are thus
    
    properly the subject of Commerce Clause regulation”); United
    
    States v. Threadgill, 
    172 F.3d 357
    , 372 (5th Cir. 1999) (holding
    
    that 18 U.S.C. § 1955, prohibiting illegal gambling, and 31
    
    U.S.C. § 5324, prohibiting unlawful structuring of a currency
    
    transaction to evade reporting, could be regulated under the
    
    Commerce Clause because both regulate “purely commercial
    
    activities”); United States v. Bird, 
    124 F.3d 667
    , 682 (5th Cir.
    
    1997) (upholding a Commerce Clause challenge to the Freedom of
    
    Access to Clinic Entrances Act on the grounds that Congress could
    
    “ensure the availability of abortion-related services in the
    
    national commercial market”); United States v. Coleman, 
    78 F.3d 154
    , 159 (5th Cir. 1996) (upholding federal car-jacking statute
    
    because such “forms of auto theft are crucial to the interstate
    
    commerce of stolen automobiles and auto parts”).
    
         As a final point, we must emphasize that in the context of
    
    the strong tradition of civil rights enforced through the
    
    Commerce Clause — a tradition in which the FHAA firmly sits — we
    
    have long recognized the broadly defined “economic” aspect of
    
                                   35
    discrimination.   As the Supreme Court stated in Heart of Atlanta
    
    Motel, Inc. v. United States,
    
         In framing Title II of [The Civil Rights Act of 1964]
         Congress was also dealing with what it considered a moral
         problem. But that fact does not detract from the
         overwhelming evidence of the disruptive effect that racial
         discrimination has had on commercial intercourse. It was
         this burden which empowered Congress to enact appropriate
         legislation.
    
    
    379 U.S. 241
    , 257 (1964) (emphasis added); see also United States
    
    v. Hickman, 
    179 F.3d 230
    , 236 (5th Cir. 1999) (Higginbotham, J.,
    
    dissenting from the affirmance of the district court’s judgments
    
    by an equally divided court) (discussing Heart of Atlanta Motel,
    
    “[t]hat this economic regulation also had the goal — even a
    
    larger goal — of undermining a racist social norm does not defeat
    
    its constitutionality”).27   As long as there is recognition of an
    
         27
              The economic effect of housing discrimination against
    the disabled is equivalent to the economic effect of racial
    discrimination in 1964. In fact, parallels were overtly
    recognized in the congressional debates leading to the passage of
    the FHAA. For example, in proposing to extend FHA protection to
    handicapped individuals, Representative Peter W. Rodino stated on
    the House floor, “I believe . . . [the FHAA] is the logical and
    necessary next step in our attempt to deal with housing
    discrimination. The effort that we began 1966 must be completed,
    so that all Americans can be assured of freedom of choice in
    choosing their homes.” 134 CONG. REC. H4604 (1988). The powerful
    words denouncing the local discrimination in Katzenbach v.
    McClung, therefore are equally relevant to our present situation,
    
         [W]hile the focus of the legislation was on the individual
         [actor’s] relation to interstate commerce, Congress
         appropriately considered the importance of that connection
         with the knowledge that the discrimination was but
         representative of many others throughout the country, the
         total incidence of which if left unchecked may well become
         far-reaching in its harm to commerce.
    
    
                                     36
    interstate effect, discrimination, even local discrimination, can
    
    be regulated under Congress’s commerce power.   See Heart of
    
    Atlanta Motel, 379 U.S. at 258.
    
         As the FHAA in general, and the reasonable accommodations
    
    provision in particular, prohibit discriminatory actions in the
    
    purchase, sale, or rental of housing — commercial transactions
    
    that have an obvious economic impact — we are satisfied that the
    
    activity regulated is economic in nature.
    
    
    
                b.   Congress May Regulate National Markets
    
         Alternatively, the Lopez Court provided a second, related
    
    analytical means to justify congressional regulation of
    
    intrastate activity that affects the national market.     See 514
    
    U.S. at 574 (“Congress can regulate in the commercial sphere on
    
    the assumption that we have a single market and a unified purpose
    
    to build a stable national economy.”) (Kennedy, J.,
    
    concurring).28   The Court held that regulation is sustainable if
    
    it exists as “an essential part of a larger regulation of
    
    
    
    379 U.S. 294
    , 301 (1964) (citations and internal quotation marks
    omitted).
         28
            The Morrison Court did not analyze this aspect of Lopez,
    as there exists no “national market” to protect women from
    violence. The Court did, however, cite to Justice Kennedy’s
    concurrence in Lopez, recognizing this means of analysis. See
    Morrison, 120 S. Ct. at 1750 (“Lopez did not alter our ‘practical
    conception of commercial regulation’ and that Congress may
    ‘regulate in the commercial sphere on the assumption that we have
    a single market and a unified purpose to build a stable national
    economy.’”).
    
                                      37
    economic activity, in which the regulatory scheme could be
    
    undercut unless the intrastate activity were regulated.”     Lopez,
    
    514 U.S. at 561; see also Hickman, 179 F.3d at 231 (Higginbotham,
    
    J., dissenting) (“Of course, Congress may protect, enhance, or
    
    restrict some particular interstate economic market, such as
    
    those in wheat, credit, minority travel, abortion service,
    
    illegal drugs, and the like, and Congress may regulate intrastate
    
    activity as part of a broader scheme.”); Bird, 124 F.3d at 682.
    
         This understanding of the Commerce Clause power has a long
    
    lineage in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence,
    
         A complex regulatory program . . . can survive a Commerce
         Clause challenge without a showing that every single facet
         of the program is independently and directly related to a
         valid congressional goal. It is enough that the challenged
         provisions are an integral part of the regulatory program
         and that the regulatory scheme when considered as a whole
         satisfies this test.
    
    Hodel v. Indiana, 
    452 U.S. 314
    , 329 n.17 (1981) (collecting
    
    cases); see also Hughes v. Alexandria Scrap Corp., 
    426 U.S. 794
    ,
    
    803 (1976) (recognizing “the premise, well established by the
    
    history of the Commerce Clause, that this nation is a common
    
    market”); Gibbs v. Babbitt, 
    214 F.3d 483
    , 497 (4th Cir. 2000)
    
    (recognizing same in post-Morrison case).
    
         In the context of fair housing, Congress has manifested its
    
    plain intent to prohibit discrimination in the national market
    
    for housing.   See 42 U.S.C. § 3601 (“It is the policy of the
    
    United States to provide within constitutional limitations, for
    
    fair housing throughout the United States.”(emphasis added)).
    
                                    38
    Congress acted in response to the recognition that in a mobile
    
    society in which people and families move within states and
    
    localities, and where local land use laws affect the movement of
    
    people, there is a national effect on housing materials, economic
    
    development, and growth of certain restricted areas.29    The
    
    reasonable accommodations provision is but one means by which to
    
    prevent housing discrimination against disabled individuals, and
    
    thus, one means to counteract the economic effect of housing
    
    discrimination at the national level.
    
         “Where the class of activities is regulated and that class
    
    is within the reach of federal power, the courts have no power to
    
    excise, as trivial, individual instances of the class.”    Perez v.
    
    United States, 
    402 U.S. 146
    , 154 (1971).    Therefore, the Parish’s
    
    challenge to the reasonable accommodations provision must be
    
    evaluated in the context of the entire statute.    See Lopez, 514
    
    U.S. at 558 (“Where a general regulatory statute bears a
    
    substantial relation to commerce, the de minimis character of
    
    individual instances arising under that statute is of no
    
    consequence.” (quoting Maryland v. Wirtz, 
    392 U.S. 183
    , 197
    
    (1968)).    Undertaking that analysis, we are satisfied that since
    
    § 3604 affects the interstate market for housing, we must uphold
    
    the individual provisions of the statute.
    
    
    
    
         29
               See infra notes 34 & 35.
    
                                      39
         In similar fashion, the national regulation of fair housing
    
    also undermines the Parish’s “local land use” argument.    Local
    
    efforts to exclude the disabled from the community by refusing to
    
    provide reasonable accommodations to zoning laws, may be
    
    regulated on a federal level if that local refusal affects the
    
    national economy.   See Heart of Atlanta Motel, 379 U.S. at 258
    
    (“[I]f it is interstate commerce that feels the pinch, it does
    
    not matter how local the operation which applies the squeeze.”
    
    (citations omitted)).   Thus, that the act of discrimination takes
    
    place on a local stage is of no moment, because when Congress has
    
    chosen a national arena to regulate, every actor that affects
    
    commerce is subject to regulation.
    
         Because the Parish’s decision to deny Groome Resources a
    
    reasonable accommodation is inextricably tied to the economic
    
    activity of buying a home and the commercial activity of
    
    operating a rental-based Alzheimer’s care facility, and the
    
    culmination of many such activities could rationally be
    
    determined to have a substantial effect on the national housing
    
    market, we find that under the Lopez-Morrison rational basis
    
    test, Congress acted within its Commerce Clause authority.
    
         Therefore, under both of the recognized means of regulation
    
    analyzed in Lopez, we find Morrison’s first question — of whether
    
    the activity is economic or commercial in nature — to be
    
    satisfied.
    
    
    
                                    40
               2. There Is No Express Jurisdictional Element
    
          As the FHAA has no express jurisdictional element, we need
    
    not belabor this second prong of the Morrison analysis.      See
    
    Morrison, 120 S. Ct. at 1750-51 (finding that a jurisdictional
    
    element could assist constitutional interpretation by providing
    
    “an explicit connection with or effect on interstate commerce”);
    
    see also Lopez, 514 U.S. at 561-62 (requiring a jurisdictional
    
    element to facilitate a “case-by-case inquiry” into the
    
    interstate “nexus”).
    
          We do note, however, that the requirement of a
    
    jurisdictional element in both Morrison and Lopez is relevant
    
    only because there was no obvious interstate economic connection
    
    in those cases, involving as they did, non-economic and
    
    intrastate activities.   While we do not rest our holding on this
    
    factor, the explicit economic nature of commercial housing used
    
    for rental purposes and the economic effect of discrimination on
    
    the national housing market (as detailed above) presents a very
    
    different situation than cases challenging non-economic and non-
    
    commercial regulatory acts.
    
    
    
     3.   The Legislative History of the FHAA Supports the Interstate
    
             Nature of the Reasonable Accommodations Provision
    
          The third prong of Morrison asks whether the legislative
    
    history of the Act provides insight into the “legislative
    
    judgment that the activity in question substantially affects
    
                                    41
    interstate commerce, even though no such substantial effect is
    
    visible to the naked eye.”   120 S. Ct. at 1751.   As is evidenced
    
    by the interstate, economic nature of housing discrimination
    
    discussed previously, we are not dealing with an invisible
    
    effect.
    
         Nevertheless, following the dictates of Morrison, we find
    
    the legislative action that resulted in the passage of the FHAA
    
    to have recognized a pattern of discrimination that affected the
    
    interstate housing market and the creation of commercial group
    
    homes for handicapped individuals.   The passage of the FHAA in
    
    1988 was the culmination of eight years of congressional
    
    discussion on the topic of discrimination against the disabled.30
    
    Hearings on the subject were held in 1979,31 1986,32 and 1988.33
    
    
         30
            See H.R. REP. NO. 100-711, at 14-15 (1988), reprinted in
    1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2175-76 (detailing the history of the FHAA
    since 1980); see also 134 CONG. REC. H4604 (1988) (statement of
    Rep. Rodino) (“The second historic feature of the bill is its
    inclusion of handicapped persons and families with children
    within Title VIII coverage. We knew of the plight of the
    handicapped when we voted to pass the Fair Housing Amendments Act
    of 1980.” (emphasis added)).
         31
            See Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1979: Hearing on H.R.
    2540 Before the Subcomm. on Civil and Constitutional Rights of
    the House Comm. on the Judiciary, 96th Cong. 1-697 (1979).
         32
            See Fair Housing Amendments Act: Hearing on H.R. 4119
    Before the Subcomm. on Civil and Constitutional Rights of the
    House Comm. on the Judiciary, 99th Cong. 1-309 (1986).
         33
            See Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1987: Hearing on H.R.
    1158 Before the Subcomm. on Civil and Constitutional Rights of
    the House Comm. on the Judiciary, 100th Cong. 1-699 (1987); Fair
    Housing Amendments Act: Hearing on S. 558 Before the Subcomm. on
    the Constitution of the Senate Comm. on the Judiciary, 100th
    
                                    42
    Citizens, advocates, and government officials testified as to the
    
    nature of the problem.34   Congress even requested legal briefing
    
    on the interstate nature of the discrimination.35
    
    
    Cong. 1-837 (1987).
         34
            See Hearing on H.R. 2540, 96th Cong. 3-14 (1979)
    (statement of Drew S. Days, III, Assistant Attorney General,
    Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice); id. at 515-23
    (statement of Willia Knighton, Consortium Concerned with the
    Developmentally Disabled); id. at 625-27 (statement of Jay
    Dystel, Director of Advocacy, American Coalition of Citizens with
    Disabilities); id. at 645-81 (statement from Congressional
    Research Service on “Legal Analysis of Issues Relating to Draft
    Legislation Amending the Fair Housing Act to Prohibit
    Discrimination Against Handicapped Persons”); Hearing on H.R.
    4119, 99th Cong. 53-62 (1986) (statement of the Honorable
    Hamilton Fish, Jr.); id. at 100-10 (statement of Bonnie Milstein,
    Civil Rights Task Force, Consortium of Citizens with
    Developmental Disabilities); id. at 247-51 (statement of Sharon
    Mistler); id. at 257-62 (statement of David M. Capozzi, Associate
    Advocacy Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America); Hearing on
    H.R. 1158, 100th Cong. 40 (1987) (statement of the Honorable Don
    Edwards); id. at 42-44 (statement of Peter W. Rodino, Jr.,
    Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of
    Representatives); id. at 571-84 (statement of Edward Roberts,
    President, World Institute on Disability); Hearing on S. 558,
    100th Cong. 3-5 (statement of Senator Edward M. Kennedy); id. at
    95-102 (statement of Marcia Bristo, President, National Centers
    on Independent Living); id. at 376-80 (statement of Michael
    Wilson, Member, Public Policy Committee, National Mental Health
    Association).
         35
            See Hearing on H.R. 2540, 96th Cong. 645-81 (1979)
    (statement from Congressional Research Service on “Legal Analysis
    of Issues Relating to Draft Legislation Amending the Fair Housing
    Act to Prohibit Discrimination Against Handicapped Persons”).
    The report found:
    
         Discrimination against the handicapped as prohibited by the
         proposed Fair Housing Amendments of 1979 (draft legislation)
         would in all probability have some effect upon interstate
         commerce, especially in view of the mobility of persons in
         this country. Persons are constantly moving to and from
         States and most families live in several different
         localities during their lifetimes. State and local land use
    
                                     43
         While the final 1988 Amendments were passed without formal
    
    findings, as this court recognized in the context of the federal
    
    regulation of machine guns, congressional findings, even if not
    
    explicitly reiterated in each incarnation of the legislation,
    
    “clearly subsist in the cumulative memory of Congress.”    United
    
    States v. Knutson, 
    113 F.3d 27
    , 30 (5th Cir. 1997).   This memory
    
    includes not only the anti-discriminatory purpose of the FHAA,
    
    but also the FHA.   See Seniors Civil Liberties Ass’n v. Kemp, 
    965 F.2d 1030
    , 1034 (11th Cir. 1992) (“Congress had ample evidence
    
    before it, and was adequately aware, that its exercise of power
    
    under the Fair Housing Act was supported by the Commerce
    
    Clause.”).36   As Senator Weicker stated on the floor of the
    
    
         and housing controls which discriminate against handicapped
         persons keep such persons from living in particular areas or
         cause them to reside in discrete, undesirable areas thus
         obstructing the flow of housing materials as well as persons
         across state lines. Specific acts of such discrimination,
         when magnified to a general trend, affect commercial
         dealings, practices and opportunities in interstate
         commerce.
    
    Id. at 676.
         36
            The legislative record of the FHA regarding the effect
    of discrimination on interstate commerce, and thus Congress’s
    authority to regulate that discrimination is well established.
    See Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1969: Hearings on S. 1358, S.
    2114, S. 2280 Before the Subcomm. on Housing and Urban Affairs of
    the Senate Comm. on Banking and Currency, 90th Cong. 7 (1969)
    (statement of Ramsey Clark, Attorney General of the United
    States) (“I clearly think under the commerce clause the United
    States has the power delegated to it to rid the Nation of this
    evil [racial discrimination] which so affects our commerce and
    the lives of our citizens through our commerce.”); id. at 14
    (prepared brief by Attorney General of the United States)
    (“Discrimination in housing affects this interstate commerce in
    
                                     44
    Senate, the FHAA legislation was introduced “to provide
    
    comprehensive civil rights protections for disabled individuals
    
    that are parallel in scope of coverage to existing civil rights
    
    laws protecting minorities.”   134 CONG. REC. S10552 (1988).   As
    
    the connection between racial discrimination and its affect on
    
    interstate commerce had been established in Heart of Atlanta
    
    Motel and McClung, Congress was well within its institutional
    
    authority to act to prevent discrimination against the disabled.
    
         Lopez directs us to “consider legislative findings, and
    
    indeed even congressional committee findings, regarding effect on
    
    interstate commerce.”   514 U.S. at 563.37   However, the Court
    
    
    several ways. The confinement of Negroes and other minority
    groups to older homes in ghettoes restricts the number of new
    homes which are built and consequently reduces the amount of
    building materials and residential financing which moves across
    state lines. Negroes, especially those in the professions or in
    business, are less likely to change their place of residence to
    another state when housing discrimination would force them to
    move their families into ghettoes; the result is both to reduce
    the interstate movement of individuals and to hinder the
    efficient allocation of labor among the interstate components of
    the economy. The Commerce Clause grants Congress plenary power
    to protect interstate commerce from adverse effects such as
    these.”); id. at 129 (statement of Rev. Robert F. Drinan, Dean,
    Boston College Law School) (discussing power of Congress under
    the Commerce Clause).
         Testimony on the FHAA also demonstrated that handicapped
    and mentally ill individuals are segregated in housing options
    that do not provide an equal opportunity in housing. See supra
    note 34.
         37
            The Commerce Clause was explicitly referenced in the
    Senate debates on the FHAA, albeit in terms of the regulation of
    housing construction to fit the special needs of the disabled.
         The debate between Senator Symms and Senator Specter
    demonstrates the concern over this issue:
    
    
                                    45
    also recognized, “Congress normally is not required to make
    
    formal findings as to the substantial burdens that an activity
    
    has on interstate commerce.”     Id.
    
         In the instant case, we are satisfied that the legislative
    
    record is replete with informal findings connecting direct
    
    discrimination against the disabled with the larger and more
    
    subtle effects on the interstate supply of housing.38   Congress
    
    
         Mr. Symms. The question that I have, Mr. President, is when
         we talk about who is enlightened and who is not enlightened,
         when I look at the building codes in the United States as
         opposed to the nonmarket countries, we have it way the best,
         yet we are trying to impose the long nose of the Federal
         Government into the size of bathrooms.     And my question
         would be to one of the learned Senators on the floor: What
         clause in the Constitution gives the Federal Government the
         right to go in and set the size of bathrooms and building
         codes?    Is this in the 13th amendment or is it from the
         commerce clause in the Constitution? Where does this come
         from?   Is this even constitutional?     That is my question.
         *   *   *    *   *
         Mr. Specter. Mr. President, I would be delighted to respond
         to the question.    The commerce clause.
         Mr. Symms. The Senator says the commerce clause.     Does the
         size of bathrooms in multiunit housing affect the commerce
         clause?
         Mr. Specter. Yes.
         Mr. Symms. How?
         Mr. Specter. Because the Commerce Clause touches the
         construction of housing where the materials passed in
         interstate commerce.    Where there is a determination by the
         Congress of the United States that interstate commerce is
         affected, the decisions by the Supreme Court of the United
         States are clear that it may reach issues like housing
         comprehended by this Fair Housing Act.
    
     134 CONG. REC. S10541 (1988).
         38
            Particularly, we note that the legislative record
    demonstrates a concern about group homes being discriminated
    against through zoning mechanisms: “[The FHAA] is intended to
    prohibit special restrictive covenants or other terms or
    
                                      46
    heard testimony about the lack of adequate housing for disabled
    
    individuals,39 the overt discrimination against college
    
    students,40 paralyzed veterans returning home from war,41 disabled
    
    military spouses required to move interstate after their husbands
    
    were transferred,42 and other instances of discrimination that
    
    placed burdens on the interstate movement of persons and
    
    
    
    conditions . . . which have the effect of excluding, for example,
    congregate living arrangements for persons with handicaps.” H.R.
    REP. NO. 100-711, reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2173, 2184; see
    also Hearing on H.R. 2540, 96th Cong. 29 (1979) (statement of
    Drew S. Days, III, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights
    Division, Department of Justice) (“[W]e have learned of serious
    impediments to the establishment of group homes for handicapped
    persons who are being de-institutionalized. These impediments
    are raised through the use of land use or occupancy laws. This
    amendment could be used to attack discriminatory exclusion of
    handicapped persons in the same way that the present Act is used
    to attack racially discriminatory land use actions.”); Hearing on
    H.R. 4119, 99th Cong. 108-09 (1986) (statement of Bonnie
    Milstein, Civil Rights Task Force, Consortium of Citizens with
    Developmental Disabilities); Hearing on H.R. 1158, 100th Cong.
    582 (1987) (statement of Edward Roberts, President, World
    Institute on Disability) (“Throughout the ten year history of
    this bill there have been ongoing attempts to provide protections
    for people living in group homes. These efforts have been
    undertaken in recognition of the history of obstructionist
    practices by many local jurisdictions.”).
         39
            See Hearing on S. 558, 100th Cong. at 95-102 (1987)
    (statement of Marcia Bristo, President, National Centers on
    Independent Living) (testifying about the 36 million Americans
    who have disabilities and the resultant difficulties obtaining
    housing).
         40
            See Hearing on H.R. 4119, 99th Cong. at 257-62 (1986)
    (statement of David M. Capozzi, Associate Advocacy Director,
    Paralyzed Veterans of America).
         41
              See id.
         42
              See id. at 247-51 (statement of Sharon Mistler).
    
                                     47
    commerce.43   This discrimination clearly depressed spending on
    
    interstate housing, and imposed an artificial restriction on the
    
    market.   See McClung, 379 U.S. at 299.
    
         This testimony, supported by legal briefs discussing
    
    Congress’s constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause, is
    
    sufficient to demonstrate that Congress was acting with
    
    considered legislative judgment.      Under a Lopez-Morrison
    
    analysis, the legislative record suffices to demonstrate that
    
    Congress had a rational basis to prohibit housing discrimination
    
    because of its effect on interstate commerce.     We recognize
    
    “whether particular operations affect interstate commerce
    
    sufficiently to come under the constitutional power of Congress
    
    to regulate them is ultimately a judicial rather than a
    
    legislative question.”    Morrison, 
    120 S. Ct. 1752
     (quoting Lopez,
    
    514 U.S. at 557).   However, on the facts presented, we are
    
    satisfied that Congress acted within its constitutional authority
    
    in enacting the FHAA.
    
    
    
    4. The Connection Between the Reasonable Accommodations Provision
    
               and Interstate Commerce Is Not Too Attenuated
    
         The final factor for analysis under Morrison is an
    
    attenuation analysis.    In Lopez, the Supreme Court rejected the
    
    government’s attempt to argue that because the possession of guns
    
    
         43
              See supra note 34.
    
                                     48
    may lead to violent crime, and that crime can affect the national
    
    economy by increasing costs through insurance and decreasing
    
    “national productivity,” there is a connection between possession
    
    of guns and interstate commerce.      Similarly, in Morrison, the
    
    Court reaffirmed that there must be a more direct connection
    
    between the regulation of violence against women and interstate
    
    commerce.    See Morrison, 120 S. Ct. at 1751 (“[In Lopez] [w]e
    
    rejected these ‘costs of crime’ and ‘national productivity’
    
    arguments because they would permit Congress to ‘regulate not
    
    only all violent crime, but all activities that might lead to
    
    violent crime, regardless of how tenuously they relate to
    
    interstate commerce.”).
    
         The attenuation argument in the instant case need not detain
    
    us long.    Unlike the need for several logical links to connect
    
    the regulated activity with commerce as in Lopez and Morrison,
    
    here the link is direct.    We do not need to pile “inference upon
    
    inference” to see that by refusing to reasonably accommodate the
    
    disabled by discriminatory zoning laws, there will be less
    
    opportunity for handicapped individuals to buy, sell, or rent
    
    homes.   The attendant financial loss to the economy from Groome
    
    Resources’ failed attempt to purchase such a house in Louisiana
    
    is a case in point.
    
         The testimony presented to Congress well demonstrated that
    
    discrimination against the disabled impeded housing rentals,
    
    purchases, and interstate travel.     Therefore, the regulation of
    
                                     49
    discriminatory policies in the purchase or rental of housing
    
    directly affects the housing industry and the economy.     Further,
    
    we are bound by the logic of Heart of Atlanta and McClung, where
    
    such a link between discrimination and commerce was ratified by
    
    the Supreme Court.    See McClung, 379 U.S. at 299-301 (discussing
    
    Heart of Atlanta Motel).
    
    
    
                     5. Conclusion on the Commerce Clause
    
         There is, however, a deeper concern embedded in the
    
    attenuation analysis that implicates a structural issue of
    
    federalism.   The Morrison/Lopez courts were concerned about
    
    unbounded federal power, and a concomitant federal invasion into
    
    areas of traditional state authority.
    
         We are therefore cognizant and respectful of Morrison’s
    
    concern with the “distinction between what is truly national and
    
    what is truly local.”    120 S. Ct. at 1754.   We are persuaded,
    
    however, that housing discrimination against the disabled is a
    
    national concern that substantially affects the economic health
    
    of the nation.    While states and localities retain broad powers
    
    to regulate and zone land within their jurisdictions, see Village
    
    of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 
    272 U.S. 365
    , 393 (1926), this
    
    local land use authority cannot defeat congressional action
    
    predicated on a nexus between discrimination and commerce.
    
         The discriminatory application of local land use authority
    
    implicates the central concern of federalism as articulated by
    
                                      50
    Lopez and Morrison — namely that federalizing certain spheres of
    
    authority blurs the federal/state distinction, undermining
    
    political accountability and impeding local experimentation:
    
         Federalism serves to assign political responsibility, not to
         obscure it. . . . Were the Federal Government to take over
         the regulation of entire areas of traditional state concern,
         areas having nothing to do with the regulation of commercial
         activities, the boundaries between the spheres of federal
         and state authority would blur and political responsibility
         would become illusory.
    
    Lopez, 514 U.S. at 577 (Kennedy, J., concurring) (citations
    
    omitted); see also id. at 581 (“If a State or municipality
    
    determines that harsh criminal sanctions are necessary and wise
    
    to deter students from carrying guns on school premises, the
    
    reserved powers of the States are sufficient to enact those
    
    measures.”); id. at 583 (“The statute now before us forecloses
    
    the States from experimenting and exercising their own judgment
    
    in an area to which States lay claim by right of history and
    
    expertise.”).
    
         “Our Federalism,” however, is not threatened here.     While
    
    the incantation of “local zoning” and “traditional” authority is
    
    present in this case, in substance, the issue before this court
    
    presents no federalism difficulty.    Unlike Lopez or Morrison, it
    
    does not serve the balance of federalism to allow local
    
    communities to discriminate against the disabled.   Local
    
    authorities cannot “experiment” by creating communities that
    
    exclude the disabled any more than local authorities can
    
    experiment by excluding minorities.   Further, the FHAA was passed
    
                                   51
    precisely because the political voice of the disabled was
    
    silenced in local debates as they were not allowed to move into
    
    the neighborhood in the first instance.44   The values of
    
    political accountability and experimentation, in fact, may be
    
    strengthened by the reasonable accommodations provision allowing
    
    the disabled an equal opportunity to live and participate in our
    
    communities, and thus change society through the local democratic
    
    process.
    
         To be clear, nothing in this analysis supports the argument
    
    that the federal government can regulate the intricacies of local
    
    zoning decisions.   In fact, the vast majority of local zoning
    
    decisions support the rationale of federalism, providing
    
    political accountability and flexibility through local control.
    
    Neither the reasonable accommodations provision nor the FHAA
    
    purports to change this balance of power.45   See Bryant Woods Inn
    
    Inc. v. Howard County Md., 
    124 F.3d 597
    , 603 (4th Cir. 1997) (“In
    
    
         44
              Testimony regarding the problem of discriminatory
    zoning rules targeting group homes, and therefore their exclusion
    from the community, was heard in congressional hearings in 1979,
    1986, and 1987. See supra note 38.
         45
            Of course, there is also nothing that allows local
    officials to avoid federal or constitutional requirements. There
    is ample history of local land use being regulated when the
    proper constitutional authorities require it. See, e.g., City of
    Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 
    473 U.S. 432
    , 434 (1985)
    (invalidating municipal zoning ordinance that discriminated
    against mentally retarded citizens); Moore v. City of East
    Cleveland, 
    431 U.S. 494
    , 499 (1977) (invalidating local housing
    ordinance that limited occupancy of a dwelling to a circumscribed
    definition of family).
    
                                    52
    enacting the FHA, Congress clearly did not contemplate abandoning
    
    the deference that courts have traditionally shown to such local
    
    zoning codes.”); see also Oxford House-C v. City of St. Louis, 
    77 F.3d 249
    , 253 (8th Cir. 1996) (“Congress also did not intend the
    
    federal courts to act as zoning boards.”).
    
          While federal courts are ill-equipped to act as zoning
    
    boards, we have, however, proved competent in enforcing anti-
    
    discrimination provisions enacted pursuant to the proper
    
    constitutional authority.46   The challenged reasonable
    
    accommodations provision simply prohibits discrimination in
    
    housing against the disabled by providing equal access to housing
    
    options.   Because housing discrimination against certain members
    
    of society is shown to affect interstate commerce, and that
    
    discrimination is directly the result of local bias, it is well
    
    within Congress’s power to provide measures such as the
    
    reasonable accommodations provision to prohibit that
    
    discrimination.
    
         We end our discussion of § 3604(f)(3)(B) where Morrison
    
    began its analysis: “Due respect for the decisions of a
    
    coordinate branch of Government demands that we invalidate a
    
    congressional enactment only upon a plain showing that Congress
    
    has exceeded its constitutional bounds.”     120 S. Ct. at 1748.
    
         46
            See e.g., Hovsons, Inc. v. Township of Brick, 
    89 F.3d 1096
    , 1103-05 (3d Cir. 1996); Oxford House-C v. City of St.
    Louis, 
    77 F.3d 249
    , 251 (8th Cir. 1996); Seniors Civil Liberties
    Ass’n, 965 F.2d at 1036.
    
                                     53
    Following Morrison, we hold that Congress did not exceed its
    
    bounds in determining that the decision to grant or deny
    
    reasonable accommodations to a disabled buyer or renter of real
    
    property was an activity “economic in nature,” and that Congress
    
    can well prohibit discrimination in the national market for
    
    housing.    See id. at 1751.   We are supported in our conclusion
    
    that Congress had a rational basis for its regulation by the
    
    lengthy legislative record of the FHAA, and the direct effect the
    
    anti-discriminatory regulation has on interstate commerce.
    
         For the foregoing reasons, we hold that § 3604(f)(3)(B) was
    
    enacted pursuant to Congress’s legitimate authority under the
    
    Commerce Clause and affirm the district court’s grant of an
    
    injunction against the Parish of Jefferson.
    
    
    
            D. The Reasonable Accommodations Provision Is Not
    
                          Unconstitutionally Vague
    
         The Parish argues that even if we find § 3604(f)(3)(B) to be
    
    a valid exercise of Congress’s commerce power, the reasonable
    
    accommodations provision is unconstitutionally vague.    We
    
    disagree.
    
         “A statute is unconstitutionally vague if it does not give a
    
    ‘person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know
    
    what is prohibited.’”    United States v. Bird, 
    124 F.3d 667
    , 683
    
    (5th Cir. 1997) (quoting Grayned v. City of Rockford, 
    408 U.S. 104
    , 108 (1972)).   The void-for-vagueness doctrine has been
    
                                      54
    primarily employed to strike down criminal laws.    See Okpalobi v.
    
    Foster, 
    190 F.3d 337
    , 358 n.10 (5th Cir. 1999).    In the civil
    
    context, “the statute must be ‘so vague and indefinite as really
    
    to be no rule at all.’”   Seniors Civil Liberties Ass’n v. Kemp,
    
    
    965 F.2d 1030
    , 1036 (11th Cir. 1992) (quoting Boutilier v. INS,
    
    
    387 U.S. 118
    , 123 (1967)).
    
         Applying this standard, we find no merit in the Parish’s
    
    contention that the provision is vague.   In the first instance,
    
    the reasonable accommodations terminology had a workable meaning
    
    even before Congress adopted it in the FHAA.   The legislative
    
    history of the FHAA demonstrates that Congress chose the
    
    reasonable accommodations language because “the concept of
    
    reasonable accommodations has a long history in regulations and
    
    case law dealing with discrimination on the basis of handicap.”
    
    H.R. REP. NO. 100-711, at 25 (1988), reprinted in 1988
    
    U.S.C.C.A.N. 2173, 2186 (citing Southeastern Cmty. Coll. v.
    
    Davis, 
    442 U.S. 397
    , 410-12 (1979)).
    
         This long history of interpretation has continued to the
    
    present day as many of our sister circuits have interpreted the
    
    reasonable accommodations provision without constitutional
    
    difficulty.   See, e.g., Bryant Woods Inn, Inc. v. Howard County,
    
    Md. 
    124 F.3d 597
    , 602 (4th Cir. 1997); Smith & Lee Assocs., Inc.
    
    v. City of Taylor, Mich., 
    102 F.3d 781
    , 794-96 (6th Cir. 1996);
    
    Hovsons, Inc. v. Township of Brick, 
    89 F.3d 1096
    , 1103-05 (3d
    
    Cir. 1996); Oxford House-C v. City of St. Louis, 
    77 F.3d 249
    , 251
    
                                    55
    (8th Cir. 1996); Seniors Civil Liberties Ass’n, 965 F.2d at 1036.
    
    These cases, and the numerous district court decisions
    
    interpreting the reasonable accommodations language, undermine
    
    the Parish’s contention that the provision is unclear or
    
    unworkable and certainly vitiates the argument that the provision
    
    is equivalent “to being no rule at all”.     Seniors Civil Liberties
    
    Ass’n, 965 F.2d at 1036.   We conclude that the reasonable
    
    accommodations language is neither vague nor indefinite, and
    
    therefore reject the Parish’s void-for-vagueness challenge.
    
    
    
                               V.   CONCLUSION
    
         For the above reasons, we AFFIRM the judgment of the
    
    district court.
    
    
    
    
                                      56