• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a New York City law that prohibited racial, religious, or sex discrimination in private clubs having more than four hundred members as long as the clubs served meals to guests and regularly received payments from nonmembers for the advancement of trade or business.

In the landmark decision Roberts v. United States Jaycees[case]Roberts v. United States Jaycees[Roberts v. United States Jaycees] (1984), the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment did not prohibit application of a state nondiscrimination law to a large national club that provided career and business opportunities for its members. In response, the New York City council made its nondiscrimination laws applicable to almost all private clubs, excluding only those that were small and did not receive payments from nonmembers. By a 9-0 majority, the Court upheld the law. Justice Byron R. White’sWhite, Byron R.;New York State Club Association v. City of New York[New York State Club Association v. City of New York] majority opinion emphasized that the law did not prevent clubs from restricting their membership on the basis of viewpoint and that private organizations advocating particular viewpoints might be able to demonstrate that application of the law would interfere with their First Amendment rights.Discrimination, sex;New York State Club Association v. City of New York[New York State Club Association v. City of New York]Assembly and association, freedom of;New York State Club Association v. City of New York[New York State Club Association v. City of New York]

In subsequent decisions, however, the Court refused to reject all free association claims for private organizations. For example, in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston[case]Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston[Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston] (1995), the Court held that the state could not compel a private organization to promote a message of which it disapproved.

Assembly and association, freedom of

Gender issues

Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston

Privacy, right to

Private discrimination

Roberts v. United States Jaycees

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