Brief Fact Summary. A coffee shop, located in a government owned parking garage, refused to serve the Appellant, Burton (Appellant), simply because he was black.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A private entity becomes a state actor when a “symbiotic” relationship exists between the state and the individual, each benefits and is interdependent upon the other.
The Court found that the profits earned by discrimination not only contribute to, but also are indispensable elements in, the financial success of a governmental agency.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Is the lessee of government property a state actor?
The construction and maintenance of the building were derived completely from governmental funds and the Appellee was responsible as the facility landlord.
The Coffee Shoppe received a benefit from the state by being located in the parking garage. At the same time the state received the benefit of increased revenue from the restaurant’s customers. Therefore, a “symbiotic relationship” existed, whereby the state “elected to place its power, property and prestige behind the admitted discrimination.”
When a state leases its property in the manner present in this case, then the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution) applies as if it were a covenant written into the lease agreement.
Discussion. The Appellee affirmed the action of the Coffee Shoppe by not taking a stand and ending the lease. The result is that the Coffee Shoppe became an extension of the Appellee. The amount of governmental entanglement is measured by the mutual benefit gained by each from the relationship. Because the restaurant was determined to be an “integral part” of the garage by directly contributing to the financial success of the Appellee, it was declared a state actor subject to the mandates of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.