Case Details


Although Not Biding, North Dakota Attorney General Opinions, Should Be Followed.

Filing State



North Dakota Supreme Court




North Dakota Fair Housing Council, Inc. v. Peterson, 2001 ND 81; 625 N.W.2d 551 (N.D. 2001)


North Dakota Attorney General opinions have force and effect of law until contrary ruling by a court.

Case Description

An unmarried couple who were denied rental housing based on their marital status sued the proposed landlord alleging violations of North Dakota’s Human Rights Act. In determining that the Act did not prohibit discrimination against unmarried couples who were cohabiting, the North Dakota Supreme Court analyzed an earlier Attorney General opinion. The court reaffirmed its holdings that an Attorney General’s opinion has the force and effect of law until a contrary ruling by a court, that opinions of an Attorney General are ‘entitled to respect,’ and a court should follow them if ‘they are persuasive.'” The court also held that, “Although not binding upon the courts, ‘an Attorney General’s official opinion nonetheless has important bearing on the construction and interpretation of a statute.’”