Moose Lodge No. 197 v. Irvis
407 U.S. 163 (1972)

  • 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 (1961)).
  • The US Supreme Court found for Moose Lodge.
    • 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 Amendment.
      • 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.