Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, Inc.

RESPONDENT: Little Hunting Park, Inc.
LOCATION: 17th Judicial Circuit Green County Alabama Jury Commission

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)

CITATION: 396 US 229 (1969)
ARGUED: Oct 13, 1969
DECIDED: Dec 15, 1969

Facts of the case


Media for Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 13, 1969 in Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

Sullivan against Little Hunting Park Incorporated.

Mr. Brown, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Allison W. Brown, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case is before the Court for the second time having been here previously on order of this Court granting a petition for writ of certiorari at the same.

At same time is which the Court vacated the judgment of Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and remanded the proceeding to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for further consideration in light of the case of Jones against Alfred H. Mayer Company.

That was in the 1967 term of the Court.

Last year, the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals after we seek of this Court's mandate refused to accept the remand to reconsider the case in light of the Mayer case and issued an opinion indicating that it would not take the case back for the same reason that it refuse to entertain the appeals on the first occasion.

The reason stated being petitioners alleged failure to comply with certain procedural rule of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

The Court indicated that it did not had jurisdiction over the proceeding in the first instance and that therefore did not have jurisdiction to accept the remand.

We petition for certiorari and the Court -- the case is now here again on the Court's granting of this second petition.

By granting the first petition for certiorari, the Court impliedly held that the nonfederal ground of decision for the State Court with the nonfederal ground upon which the State Court decided the case was inadequate to support the judgment and that the federal question should therefore be examined.

The State Court by failing to accept the remand, by failing to comply with this Court's mandate, we submit has fail to observe its responsibilities under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

We are now before the Court with the case on the merits.

The case -- the principal issues in the case concern the matter of whether a community recreation association may engage in racially discriminatory policies and practices within the -- under the proscriptions contained of the 1866 -- Civil Rights Act of 1866 which this Court construed in Jones against Alfred Mayer Company.

And whether also those racially discriminatory practices are banned or prohibited by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The second question -- major question that is, is whether a party was a member of this local recreation association and dissents from its policies may consonant with the protections afforded by the 1866 law in the Constitution be expelled for his dissent.

Briefly, the facts are that Little Hunting Park Incorporated is a nonstop corporation organized under the Virginia law for the purpose of providing a community recreation facility.

It has a swimming pool, tennis courts and a park and picnic area.

The bylaws has provide that its facilities are available and membership is available to anyone living within prescribed neighborhood, a prescribed geographic area consisting of four real estate subdivisions plus such adjacent areas or additional areas as the Board of Directors might decide.

The membership in the association is obtained by the purchase or assignment of shares.

Shares maybe purchase for a sum of money and they may also be obtained upon assignment from landlord to tenant, these are provisions of the bylaws.

There is a limit of 600 shares in the association and the record shows that in the history of this association's existence namely from 1955 to 1965 -- excuse me, 1965 to 1966 when the trial was held.

Shares had been uniformly permitted that is assignment and transfer of shares have been uniformly permitted by the Board of Directors of the association all such purchases and assignments of shares being subject to approval.

The only occasion for an the assignment or refusal to permit an assignment having occurred at the time of the incidents which are alleged to herein to be the basis for this action namely the refusal to permit the assignment from the one pool of Sullivan, to Dr. Theodore Freeman because of the latter's race -- the -- Dr. Freeman being a Negro.

The situation involving these two parties came about as follows: Mr. Sullivan, a white man had owned property in the neighborhood covered by the bylaws of the association and in 1955 or 1954 when the association have been formed had purchased a share which he used so long as he live in a house on Condor Road in Fairfax County, Virginia.

He, after 11 years, moved to another house as part of the purchase price of the second house purchased a second share in the association.

In the meantime, he continued to rent the first property and as part of the lease made a practice of assigning the share in the association that he'd purchased as to accompany the first piece of property of the first house.

So, Mr. Sullivan owned two shares, he owned two houses, the first house he rented out.

In 1965, rented the first house to Dr. Freeman and as part of the lease provided for the assignment of the share in the association it went along with that property.

Potter Stewart:

Was this the first time he had rented that house?