407 U.S. 163 (1972), 70-75, Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis

Docket Nº:No. 70-75
Citation:407 U.S. 163, 92 S.Ct. 1965, 32 L.Ed.2d 627
Party Name:Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis
Case Date:June 12, 1972
Court:United States Supreme Court

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407 U.S. 163 (1972)

92 S.Ct. 1965, 32 L.Ed.2d 627

Moose Lodge No. 107



No. 70-75

United States Supreme Court

June 12, 1972

Argued February 28, 1972




Appellee Irvis, a Negro guest of a member of appellant, a private club, was refused service at the club's dining room and bar solely because of his race. In suing for injunctive relief, appellee contended that the discrimination was state [92 S.Ct. 1967] action, and thus a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, because the Pennsylvania liquor board had issued appellant a private club liquor license. The District Court found appellant's membership and guest practices discriminatory, agreed with appellee's view that state action was present, and declared the liquor license invalid as long as appellant continued its discriminatory practices. Appellant's motion to have the final decree limited to its guest policy was opposed by appellee, and the court denied the motion. Following the District Court's decision, the applicable bylaws were amended to exclude as guests those who would be excluded as members.


1. Appellee, who had not applied for or been denied membership in appellant private club, had no standing to contest appellant's membership practices. He did, however, have standing to litigate the constitutional validity of appellant's discriminatory policies toward members' guests, and his opposition to amendment of the judgment did not constitute a disclaimer of injunctive relief directed at appellant's guest policies. Pp. 165-171.

2. The operation of Pennsylvania's regulatory scheme enforced by the state liquor board, except as noted below, does not sufficiently implicate the State in appellant's discriminatory guest practices so as to make those practices "state action" within the purview of the Equal Protection Clause, and there is no suggestion in the record that the State's regulation of the sale of liquor is intended overtly or covertly to encourage discrimination. Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority, 365 U.S. 715, distinguished. Pp. 171-177.

3. Pennsylvania liquor board's regulation requiring that "every club licensee shall adhere to all the provisions of its constitution and bylaws" in effect placed state sanctions behind the discriminatory guest practices that were enacted after the District Court's

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decision, and enforcement of that regulation should be enjoined to the extent that it requires appellant to adhere to those practices. Pp. 177-179.

318 . Supp. 1246, reversed and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 179. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined post, p. 184.

REHNQUIST, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellee Irvis, a Negro (hereafter appellee), was refused service by appellant Moose Lodge, a local branch of the national fraternal organization located in Harrisburg,

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Pennsylvania. Appellee then brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for injunctive relief in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He claimed that, because the Pennsylvania liquor board had issued appellant Moose Lodge a private club license that authorized the sale of alcoholic beverages on its premises, the refusal of service to him was "state action" for the purposes of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He named both Moose Lodge and the Pennsylvania Liquor Authority as defendants, seeking injunctive relief that would have required the defendant liquor board to revoke Moose Lodge's license so long as it continued its discriminatory practices. Appellee sought no damages.

A three-judge district court, convened at appellee's request, upheld his contention on the merits, and entered a decree declaring invalid the liquor license issued to Moose Lodge "as long as it follows a policy of racial discrimination in its membership or operating policies or practices." Moose Lodge alone appealed from the decree, and we postponed decision as to jurisdiction until the hearing on the merits, 401 U.S. 992. Appellant urges, in the alternative, that we either [92 S.Ct. 1968] vacate the judgment below because there is not presently a case or controversy between the parties, or that we reverse on the merits.


The District Court in its opinion found that

a Caucasian member in good standing brought plaintiff, a Negro, to the Lodge's dining room and bar as his guest and requested service of food and beverages. The Lodge through its employees refused service to plaintiff solely because he is a Negro.

318 F.Supp. 1246, 1247. It is undisputed that each local Moose Lodge is bound by the constitution and general bylaws of

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the Supreme Lodge, the latter of which contain a provision limiting membership in the lodges to white male Caucasians. The District Court in this connection found that

[t]he lodges accordingly maintain a policy and practice of restricting membership to the Caucasian race and permitting members to bring only Caucasian guests on lodge premises, particularly to the dining room and bar.


The District Court ruled in favor of appellee on his Fourteenth Amendment claim, and entered the previously described decree. Following its loss on the merits in the District Court, Moose Lodge moved to modify the final decree by limiting its effect to discriminatory policies with respect to the service of guests. Appellee opposed the proposed modification, and the court denied the motion.

The District Court did not find, and it could not have found on this record, that appellee had sought membership in Moose Lodge and been denied it. Appellant contends that, because of this fact, appellee had no standing to litigate the constitutional issue respecting Moose Lodge's membership requirements, and that, therefore, the decree of the court below erred insofar as it decided that issue.

Any injury to appellee from the conduct of Moose Lodge stemmed not from the lodge's membership requirements, but from its policies with respect to the serving of guests of members. Appellee has standing to seek redress for injuries done to him, but may not seek redress for injuries done to others. Virginian R. Co. v. System Federation, 300 U.S. 515, 558 (1937); Erie R. Co. v. Williams, 233 U.S. 685, 697 (1914). While this Court has held that in exceptional situations a concededly injured party may rely on the constitutional rights of a third party in obtaining relief, Barrows v.

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Jackson, 346 U.S. 249 (1953),1 in this case, appellee was not injured by Moose Lodge's membership policy, since he never sought to become a member.

Appellee relies on Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968), and Law Students Research Council v. Wadmon, 401 U.S. 154 (1971), to support the breadth of the District Court's decree. Flast v. Cohen held that a federal taxpayer had standing qua taxpayer to challenge the expenditure of federal funds authorized by Congress under the taxing and spending clause of the Constitution. The Court in Flast pointed out:

It will not be sufficient to allege an incidental expenditure of tax funds in the administration of an essentially regulatory statute. This requirement is consistent with the limitation imposed upon state-taxpayer standing in federal courts in Doremus v. Board of Education, 342 U.S. 429 (1952).

392 U.S. at 102.

The taxpayer's claim in Flast, of course, was that the proposed expenditure violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, a clause which, by its terms, prohibits taxing and spending in aid of religion.

The Court in Law Students Research Council v. Wadmond, supra, noted that, while appellants admitted that no person involved in that litigation had been refused admission to the New York bar, they claimed that the existence of New York's system of screening applicants for admission to the bar worked a chilling effect upon the free exercise of the rights of speech and association of students who must anticipate having to meet its

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requirements. The Court then went on to decide the merits of the students' contention. While the doctrine of "overbreadth" has been held by this Court in prior decisions to accord standing by reason of the "chilling effect" that a particular law might have upon the exercise of the First Amendment rights, that doctrine has not been applied to constitutional litigation in areas other than those relating to the First Amendment.

We believe that Moose Lodge is correct, therefore, in contending that the District Court, in its decree, went beyond the vindication of any claim that appellee had standing to litigate. Appellee did, however, have standing to litigate the constitutional validity of Moose Lodge's policies relating to the service of guests of members. The language of the decree, insofar as it referred to Moose Lodge's "policy of racial discrimination in its membership or operating policies or practices" is sufficiently broad to encompass practices relating to the service of guests of members, as well as policies and practices relating to the acceptance of members. But Moose Lodge claims that, because of the position appellee took on the motion to modify the decree, he in effect disclaimed any interest in obtaining relief based solely on the Lodge's practice with respect to serving the guests of members.

Appellee in his brief on this point says:

[Moose Lodge's...

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