Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority
365 U.S. 715 (1961)
A restaurant in Delaware
refused to serve Burton because he was black.
The restaurant happened to
be in a building that was owned by the city of Wilmington.
Burton sued, claiming that his
14th Amendment right to
equal protection had been violated.
Wilmington argued that they
didn't discriminate against anybody, the restaurant was a private
business, and so the 14th Amendment didn't apply.
Amendment, only applies for
governmental actions (aka the State Action Doctrine).
Burton argued that because
the building was owned by the city government, and they regulated the
building's tenants, the government was 'entangled' in the situation, and
so it did constitute government action.
That's the Entanglement
Exception to the State
The US Supreme Court found for
The US Supreme Court found
that the restaurant was an integral part of a public building, and that
the income generated by the restaurant was an "indispensable element
in the financial success of the governmental agency."
"By its inaction, the
State has not only made itself a party to the refusal of service, but
has elected to place its power, property, and prestige behind the
Basically, there was a symbiosis between the government and the private
The Court found that when a
governmental agency leases public property in the manner shown in this
case, the proscriptions of the 14th Amendment must be complied with by the lessee as
certainly as though they were binding covenants written into the