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By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Friday formally dismissed a closely watched housing case that settled earlier in the week.
The move was expected after the township council in Mount Holly, New Jersey, voted on Wednesday to settle the case, less than a month before the high court was due to hear oral arguments.
The settlement, which has been approved by the township and the citizen group that originally filed the lawsuit, marks the second time in two years that civil rights advocates and others have worked to keep a housing-discrimination case away from a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives.
In June, the court agreed to consider whether Mount Holly's plan to demolish lower-income housing and replace it with new units, some available at market rates, violated the 1968 Fair Housing Act because it would be less affordable for minorities.
The lawsuit had been closely watched because of its possible effect on other cases involving so-called "disparate impact" claims, which target seemingly neutral practices that have a discriminatory effect.
The Obama administration had asked the court not to take the Mount Holly case, just as it had asked the court not to take another housing discrimination case which involved a dispute between landlords and the city of St. Paul, Minnesota. That case also settled before the high court could rule.
The case is Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Gardens Citizens, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-1507.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)