Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis

PETITIONER: Moose Lodge No. 107
LOCATION: Former Moose Lodge No. 107

DOCKET NO.: 70-75
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 407 US 163 (1972)
ARGUED: Feb 28, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 12, 1972

Frederick Bernays Wiener - Argued the cause for the appellant
Harry J. Rubin - Argued the cause for the appellees

Facts of the case

K. Leroy Irvis, a black man who was a guest of a white member of the Moose Lodge No. 107, was refused service at the club's dining room because of his race. The bylaws of the Lodge limited membership to white male Caucasians. Irvis challenged the club's refusal to serve him, arguing that the action of the Pennsylvania liquor board issuing the Lodge a license made the club's discrimination "state action."


Did the discriminatory practices violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Media for Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 28, 1972 in Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis

Warren E. Burger:

This morning in number 70-75, Moose Lodge against Irvis.

Frederick Bernays Wiener:

Mr. Chief Justice --

Warren E. Burger:

Just suspend for one moment, Mr. Wiener?

Mr. Wiener you may proceed.

Frederick Bernays Wiener:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The substantive issue in this case is whether anything in the Constitution of the United States requires the virtual destruction of private clubs in this country.

But before I can reach that question, the rules require that I reach the jurisdictional issue which the Court postponed.

Before I can usefully do either, I must re-sketch the facts.

Appellant Moose Lodge is a private club in every respect and the parties have so stipulated in detail.

It has selective and invitational membership procedures.

Admission to the club house is restricted to members and their guests.

It has never received, and isn’t now receiving any public funds.

It’s club house is not located on public property.

It performs no public functions.

It conducts no community activity.

It has never ask for public assistance either from courts or police in the conduct of it affairs.

It's never sought public patronage through advertising.

It’s not a recent transformation.

There is no sham or substitutes here.

It is a non-profit corporation, controlled by its membership and the object of its bounty are Mooseheart which is an orphanage and school and Mooseheaven which is a home for the elder. Now here is all that Moose Lodge receives from public bodies.

It has a occupancy permit for its building.

It has an operating permit for its elevator.

It has a health permit for its restaurant.

It gets also what every private residents within the city limits gets, water, steam heat, and trash removal for which it pays and it has a club liquor license from the Commonwealth.

Moose Lodge's membership is restrictive as is that of other clubs and organizations in this country that include more than 70,000,0000 Americans.

Restriction are; first Male, second Caucasian and not married to a non Caucasian, third belief in the supreme being.

I better read from the court's findings as to how this case arose.

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.

There upon, the plaintiff Mr. Irvis, who is the majority leader of the Pennsylvania house of representatives brought this action against the Moose Lodge and the members of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, alleging the unconstitutionality of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code as applied, because it did not prohibit the issuance of club licenses to clubs with racial membership restrictions.