Irvis went to a bar at Moose
Lodge, but they refused to serve him because he was black. He sued
claiming that his 14th Amendment right to equal protection had been violated.
Moose Lodge argued that the
on the Equal Protection Clause of
the 14th Amendment, which only applies for
governmental actions (aka the State Action Doctrine), and they were a private entity.
Irvis argued that since
Pennsylvania had issued a liquor license to Moose Lodge, the State was
'entangled' in the business and so constitutional protections should
apply (aka the Entanglement Exception).
See Burton v. Wilmington
Parking Authority (365 U.S. 715
The US Supreme Court found for
The Court found that the
regulatory scheme enforced by Pennsylvania did not sufficiently implicate
the State in the discriminatory policies of Moose Lodge to make the
discrimination "State action" within the scope of the 14th
Pennsylvania had no part in
establishing or enforcing the membership policies of Moose Lodge.
This case was distinguished
from Burton, because in Burton,
the government owned the building and was leasing the retail space to
the racists. Here, the Moose Lodge was in a privately owned building.
In a dissent it was argued
that Pennsylvania only issues a set number of liquor licenses, and already
pervasively regulates the industry. They had the power to enforce the Equal
Protection Clause if they wanted to,
and by not doing it, the State was actively discriminating against
minorities who wanted to get drunk because they were effectively barring
new, non-discriminating bars from opening.