The Supreme Court held that a state agency did not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when it issued a liquor license to a private club that practiced racial discrimination.
Moose Lodge No. 107, a private club in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, allowed only white men to use its premises. One member of the club tried to bring Leroy Irvis, a prominent African American
By a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court rejected Irvis’s claim. Speaking for the majority, Justice William H. Rehnquist
Dissenting, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., argued that the state was an “active participant” in the Moose Lodge bar, and he noted that the liquor licensing laws included “pervasive regulatory schemes” for many aspects of the licensee’s business. Justice William O. Douglas emphasized that liquor licenses were very scarce and that therefore the state’s policy restricted the equal access of African Americans to liquor. Ironically, Irvis was able to find recourse under Pennsylvania’s public accommodations law.
Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority
Civil Rights Cases
Equal protection clause
Race and discrimination