State Action & Civil Rights Acts Class Slides 2/05/09
Shelly v. Kraemer (1948) FACTS: When Shelly, who was black, sought to purchase a house from its white owner, the neighbors went to court to enforce a "restrictive covenant" against the sale of the property to non-whites. ISSUE: Was it a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment for the Missouri courts to enforce the terms of a racially restrictive covenant contained in a deed for private property?
Shelly v. Kraemer (1948) HOLDING: YES, It is a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment for state courts to enforce racially restrictive covenants in the deeds of private landowners. REASONING: In court’s action in enforcing the terms of the restrictive covenant is considered “state action” for purposes of interpreting the 14th amendment.
Shelly v. Kraemer (1948) IMPACT: Neighbors could not go to court to prevent property owner from selling house to non-whites, even though it was in violation of restrictive covenant in the deed. Owners of property could still discriminate in the sale of their property if they voluntarily chose to do so.
Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority (1961) FACTS: Burton, a black man, was denied service at a coffee shoppe that leased space from the city in a public parking garage. ISSUE: It is a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment for the Eagle Coffee Shoppe to discriminate on the basis of race?
Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority (1961) HOLDING: It is a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment for a private restaurant that leases its space from a governmental entity to discriminate on the basis of race. REASONING: Proscriptions of the 14th amendment apply to the use of government owned property, even when it is leased to a private business.
Moose Lodge #107 v. Irvis (1972) FACTS: This is a civil suit in which: K. Leroy Irvis is the plaintiff and Moose Lodge No. 107 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is the defendant. Employees of the Moose Lodge refused to serve Irvis because he was black. Irvis claims that because the Moose Lodge holds a sate liquor license, it’s failure to serve a black man constitutes an act of racial discrimination in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.
Moose Lodge #107 v. Irvis (1972) FACTS: (Continued) Plaintiff is asking the court to require the defendant to serve minorities or give up its liquor license.. The defense admits that they discriminated against Irvis on the basis of his race, but argues that such discrimination is not in violation of the 14th amendment.
Moose Lodge #107 v. Irvis (1972) JUDICIAL HISTORY: A Federal District Court ruled in favor of Irvis, and invalidated the Lodge’s liquor license. The Moose Lodge appealed. SPECIFIC ISSUES: Is it a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment for Moose Lodge #107 to refuse to serve alcohol to Irvis because he is black? NO (6-3)
Moose Lodge #107 v. Irvis (1972) DISPOSITION: The lower court’s decision was reversed. HOLDING/PRECEDENT: It is not a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment for a private club holding a government issued liquor license to discriminate on the basis of race.
Moose Lodge #107 v. Irvis (1972) REASONING: OPINION OF THE COURT Opinion written by Justice Rehnquist. He was joined by Justices Blackmun, Burger, Powell, Stewart, and White. The issuing of a liquor license does not create sufficient state involvement in the operation of a private club to justify treating the discriminatory actions of the license holder as constituting state action under the 14th amendment. Granting of liquor license viewed as being similar to providing police and fire protection, rather than becoming a partner in the club’s enterprise.
Moose Lodge #107 v. Irvis (1972) REASONING: OPINION OF THE COURT Majority relied upon Civil Rights Cases to establish dichotomy between actions of the state and those of private individuals. Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority was distinguished on the basis that it involved a “public activity” and a lessor-lessee relationship. No discussion of public policy considerations
Moose Lodge #107 v. Irvis (1972) DISSENTING OPINION: Opinion written by Justice Brennan. He was joined by Justices Douglas and Marshall. The issuance of liquor license creates state action because it involves a pervasive regulatory scheme in which the state dictates and oversees many aspects of the business. No discussion of public policy concerns.
Attitudes and Values of Judges Moose Lodge decision illustrates how much discretion Justices exercise in deciding which are the appropriate precedent cases to follow. It also illustrates the significance of the attitudes and values the Justices bring with them to the Supreme Court.
Federal Statutes Prohibiting Discrimination by Private Parties Although it took almost a hundred years, Congress renewed its attempts to develop statutory protections against discrimination in the 1950’s and 60’s. See Box IV-1 E&W pp. 622-623 Note Civil Rts. Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination in public accommodations which affect interstate commerce.
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964) FACTS: The plaintiff (Heart of Atlanta Motel) is a privately owned hotel who's business had a number of connections with interstate commerce (i.e. it advertised in interstate commerce and 75% of its guests were from other states). It is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the enforcement of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964) HOLDING #1 The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to prohibit racial discrimination in public accommodations which have an effect upon interstate commerce. REASONING: The Civil Rights Cases are not relevant precedent because that statute in that case was based on the 14th amendment rather than the commerce clause.
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964) The legislative record of the act in question demonstrates that discrimination in public accommodations places burdens on interstate commerce. Otherwise valid laws are not rendered invalid as a result of their being directed at a moral wrong.
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964) HOLDING #2 It is not a violation of the due process clause of the 5th amendment for the federal government to prohibit private individuals from discriminating in public accommodations. REASONING: Congress had a rational basis for finding that racial discrimination by motels affected commerce so the law is a reasonable and appropriate way of achieving the governments goals. It is doubtful that appellants will suffer long term economic harm and even if they do suffer economic loss, that fact alone is not enough to invalidate the law.
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964) HOLDING #3 It is not a violation of the 13th amendment for the federal government to prohibit private individuals from discriminating in public accommodations. REASONING: There is no basis for appellants contention that forcing them to accept black visitors is equivalent to involuntary servitude under the terms of the 13th amendment.
Katzback v. McClung (1964) FACTS: Ollie's Barbecue was a small, family owned restaurant that wasn’t served local residents rather than interstate travelers. It sought injunctive relief against enforcement of Civil Rts. Act of 1964 against it ISSUE: Could the Civil Rights Act of 1964 be enforced against Ollie’s? YES
Katzback v. McClung (1964) REASONING: The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to prohibit racial discrimination in public accommodations which utilize goods that are transported through interstate commerce. loss of potential customers has impact on amount of food moving through interstate commerce. existence of segregation in public accommodations negatively impacts the ability to blacks to travel and discourages them from taking jobs in areas where there is discrimination in public accommodations.
Statutes on Housing Civil Rights Act of 1866 [See Box IV-1 on pp. 656]states that "All citizens of the US shall have the same rights as enjoyed by white citizens to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold and convey real and personal property." Although the Supreme Court’s decision in the Civil Rights Cases (1883), involved public accommodations rather than housing, the government never made any attempt to enforce this act either.
Statutes on Housing In 1968, Congress used its interstate commerce power to prohibit discrimination in the sale and rental of housing in the Civil Rights Act of 1968. That same year, in Jones v. Mayer the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the old 1800s Civil Rights Act on housing based on the 13th amendment. Supreme Court ruled that discrimination against blacks in the sale and rental of property was a "badge and incident of slavery.“
Statutes on Housing Today, therefore, there are two separate federal civil rights acts that both prohibit forms of discrimination in housing. There are also numerous state and local open housing laws.
Statutes on Employment Discrimination Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 [See Box IV-1 p656] prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, etc. In 1974 it was amended to include discrimination based on sex.