Citation. 419 U.S. 345, 95 S.Ct. 449, 42 L.Ed.2d 477 (1974).
Brief Fact Summary.
Defendant cut off Plaintiff’s electricity after nonpayment. Plaintiff filed suit, arguing she was served no notice and that it constituted state action depriving her of property.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The fact that a business is subject to state regulation does not in itself constitute state action for purposes for 14th Amendment analysis.
Defendant is a regulated privately owned and operated utility company subject to extensive state regulation. Plaintiff claimed under state law that she was entitled to reasonably continuous electric service and that the termination of service due to bill nonpayment was state action depriving her of property without due process required under the 14th Amendment.
Whether termination of electric service due to nonpayment constitutes state action.
No. Termination of electric service due to nonpayment does not constitute state action.
This case is a very poor vehicle for resolving the difficult and important questions presented today. The fact that Defendant supplies an essential public service for so many communities weighs more heavily for me, which would disproportionately affect Black and poor communities.
The inquiry must be whether there is a sufficiently close nexus between the state and challenged action of the regulated identity so that the action of the latter may be fairly treated as that of the state itself. Here, Plaintiff has shown no persuasive reason or connection.
Doctors, optometrists, lawyers, etc. also affect the public interest and are heavily regulated. However, we do not believe that such a status converts their every action, absent more, into that of the state. Judgement affirmed.