City of Mesquite v. Aladdin's Castle, Inc.

PETITIONER: City of Mesquite
RESPONDENT: Aladdin's Castle, Inc.
LOCATION: Mississippi University for Women

DOCKET NO.: 80-1577
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 455 US 283 (1982)
ARGUED: Nov 10, 1981
DECIDED: Feb 23, 1982

ADVOCATES:
Elland Archer - on behalf of the Appellant
Philip W. Tone - on behalf of the Appellee

Facts of the case

Question

Media for City of Mesquite v. Aladdin's Castle, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 10, 1981 in City of Mesquite v. Aladdin's Castle, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in City of Mesquite against Aladdin's Castle, Incorporated.

Mr. Archer, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Elland Archer:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court:

The primary question in this case is whether or not the playing of coin-operated machines is a fundamental right.

There are other questions, of course.

The second important question is which rules of law are applicable to adults and which are applicable to children.

With your permission, I'd like to discuss the fundamental right question first.

We think in finding a fundamental right on a par with freedom of speech and religion, right to travel and other important rights that the Court of Appeals used an extremely broad interpretation of the term "association".

Of course, in its broadest terms "association" would encompass all commercial transactions.

We realize that.

If you rent an automobile, of course, there may be some associational aspects.

If you rent a boat, if you rent a motel room, you may have guests in.

Well, if you associate together to fix prices, I suppose that's freedom of association.

Elland Archer:

Yes, yes.

What we're saying is that you can't just take the term "association" in its ordinary sense and apply it as the association that is protected by the Constitution.

We feel that there is something more than just mere physical proximity to constitute association protected by the Constitution.

For instance, if you go in a bank to make a loan you're going to talk with people, you're going to meet friends and acquaintances.

When you go in the supermarket, when you're at work, you have association with your fellow workers.

But these are all matters governed by the law of contract.

I'd like to discuss for just a moment the nature of the transaction that is regulated.

What we have here is a simple rental agreement.

Generally a customer pays 25 cents for use of a machine, generally from one to three minutes or whatever time it takes.

No different from renting a lawn mower or renting a power saw or any other machine.

Now, if this type of transaction is the association that is protected by the Constitution under the decisions of this Court, then every commercial transaction known to man becomes a First Amendment activity.

This we feel will weaken the values that have traditionally been upheld by this Court.

Going to the question of which rules of law are applicable to adults and which are applicable to children, we say children are simply not the same as adults.

We don't mean to imply that children have no constitutional rights.

Certainly they do.

But the rights of children are not always the same as the rights of adults.

I think in the words of Justice Frankfurter's concurring opinion in May versus Anderson, he said it much better than I can: