The release of a long-awaited federal rule on housing discrimination is bad news for bankers who fear being targeted in fair-lending suits, according to lawyers who represent the defendants in those cases.

The 83-page rule, which was issued Friday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will likely make it easier for borrowers to win disputes over allegations of racial discrimination. Moreover, it could reduce the likelihood that the Supreme Court would side with banks in fair-lending cases, lawyers say.

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