Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis Case Brief

Why is the case important?

The Appellee, Irvis (Appellee), brought suit against the Appellants, Moose Lodge No. 107 (Moose Lodge) a private club and the State liquor board (Appellants) alleging discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution) because of the club’s policies against non-whites.

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.”””

Question

Whether the State liquor board’s issuance of a liquor license to a private club located on private property constitutes significant state involvement, thus, permitting an action under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution?

Answer

Reversed. Issuance of a state liquor license to a private club does not constitute significant state involvement. The State played no part in establishing or enforcing the membership or guest polices of the club that it licenses to serve liquor. The State does not discriminate against minority groups in its ability to obtain a liquor license themselves. The state does not in any way encourage racial discrimination, nor, is it a partner or a joint venture with Appellant.

Conclusion

“The United States Supreme Court reversed, holding that because appellee guest who had never applied for, nor been denied, membership in the lodge had no standing to litigate a constitutional claim arising out of the lodge’s membership practices. Any injury to appellee from the conduct of the lodge stemmed, not from the lodge’s membership requirements, but from its policies with respect to the serving of guests of members. While the Court has held that in exceptional situations a concededly injured party may rely on the constitutional rights of a third party in obtaining relief, in this case appellee was not injured by the lodge’s membership policy because he never sought to become a member. Next, the Court held that, with the exception of regulation § 113.09, the operation of the regulatory scheme enforced by appellant Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board does not sufficiently implicate the State in the discriminatory guest policies of the Lodge to make the latter “”state action”” within the ambit of the Equal Protection Clause. The Court concluded that appellee guest was entitled to a decree enjoining the enforcement of § 113.09 of the Board’s regulations insofar as that regulation requires compliance by the lodge with provisions of its constitution and bylaws containing racially discriminatory provisions.”

  • Case Brief: 1972
  • Appellant: Moose Lodge No. 107
  • Appellee: Irvis
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 407 US 163 (1972)
Argued: Feb 28, 1972
Decided: Jun 12, 1972