The Law School Authority

Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis Case Brief

Summary of Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis
407 U. S. 163 [1972]

Govt Regulation of Private Activity:

Relevant Facts: Irvis, a African-Amercian guest of a Caucasian member of the Moose Lodge was refused food and beverage service within the local Harrisburg, PA chapter.  Each Moose Lodge is bound by the constitution and by-laws fo the Supreme Lodge, which mandates membership to male white Caucasians. It is not publicly funded, and the building is privately owned. The Pennsylvania liquor board issued the lodge a private club license to sell liquor on its premises.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the refusal to sell alcoholic beverages to Irvis by the Moose Lodge which was acting under a license issued by the State, constituted state action and forbidden by the 14th ?

Court’s Holding: No

Procedure: Pl sought injunctive relief barring revocation of license, D. Ct. bench trial granted temporary injunction, Moose appealed;  Reversed.

Law or Rule(s): Where the discrimination is private, the State must have significantly involved itself with the discrimination in order for the discriminatory action to become unconstitutional.

Court Rationale: There is no symbiotic [complex, or multiple] relationship between Moose and the State.  The lodge is a private club in a privately owned building on private land.  The State plays no part in establishing or enforcing the membership or guest policies.  The State regulation of private clubs by the Liquor Control Board does not foster or encourage racial discrimination.  The State is not a partner or joint venturer in the club’s enterprise.  State action may emanate from administrative agencies as well as from legislation or judicial action, but the record before us is not clear and the pl has not persuaded the court that has occurred.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Licensing of the Moose Lodge to serve liquor by the State of Penn. amounts to such State involvement with the club to make its discriminatory practices forbidden by the 14th .

Defendant’s Argument: The Moose Lodge is a private club located in a privately owned building situated on privately owned land.

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the U. S.; nor deprive any person life, liberty, or property w/o due process of law; nor deny any person the equal protection of the law.

Minority -There are no available liquor licenses left in Harrisburg, as such the State is putting the weight of it liquor license, behind racial discrimination.  Liquor licenses are a  primary persuasive regulatory scheme under which that State supervises the operation of the business involved.  That involvement is state action.  The regulation of liquor licenses intertwines the State with the operation of Lodge bar significantly.



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