Moose Lodge #107 v. Irvis 407 U.S. 163 (1972)

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MOOSE LODGE #107 v. IRVIS 407 U.S. 163 (1972)

Irvis, a black, was refused service at a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, branch of the Moose Lodge, a fraternal organization whose fraternity knew bounds. Irvis sued under federal civil rights laws for an injunction requiring the Pennsylvania liquor board to revoke the lodge's license so long as it continued to discriminate on the basis of race. The Supreme Court held, 6–3, in an opinion by Justice william h. rehnquist, that Irvis was not entitled to the relief he sought. The state's licensing was not, of itself, sufficient to satisfy the state action limitation of the fourteenth amendment, and the Constitution offered no protection against racial discrimination by a private club.

In the majority's view, nothing in the case approached the "symbiotic relationship" between the state and private racial discrimination shown in burton v. wilmington parking authority (1961). Although Pennsylvania liquor licensees were subjected to a number of state regulations, that supervision did not "encourage" racial discrimination. Furthermore, because many liquor licenses had been issued in the area, the lodge's license fell short of creating a state-supported monopoly. Thus the state had not implicated itself in the lodge's discriminatory policies.

justices william o. douglas and william j. brennan wrote separate dissenting opinions, each joined by Justice thurgood marshall. The dissenters emphasized the degree of monopoly power of clubs licensed to sell liquor and the state's detailed regulation of licensees.

Kenneth L. Karst