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Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Iris

Citation. 407 U.S. 163, 92 S.Ct. 1965, 32 L.Ed.2d 627 (1972).

Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff, a guest of a Moose Lodge member, was denied service because of his race and filed suit, arguing the denial violated his constitutional rights.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Liquor licensing does not significantly involve the state enough to constitute state action.


A Moose Lodge member in good standing brought the Plaintiff to the club. Plaintiff was refused service in the club’s dining room because of his race. Plaintiff challenged the club’s refusal of service, arguing the Pennsylvania liquor board’s issuance of a liquor license made the club’s discrimination a state action.


Whether liquor licensing constitutes state action, requiring further analysis under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.


No. Liquor licensing does not constitute state action, requiring further analysis under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.


Justice Douglas

Liquor licenses in Pennsylvania, unlike driver’s licenses, or marriage licenses, are not freely available. There is a complex quota system. The state is incorrectly putting the weight of liquor licenses behind racial discrimination.

Justice Brennan

When Defendant obtained its liquor licenses, the state became an active participant in the operation of the bar. Liquor licenses are primarily a regulatory scheme under which the state dictates and continually supervises virtually ever detail. Our prior decisions leave no doubt that the mere existence of efforts by the state constitute state action.


Defendant is a private social club in a private building. It is private in name and does not perform a function or service that would otherwise be performed by the state. Unlike Burton, there is no symbiotic relationship between the government and club. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has no active role in the club’s membership or guest policies. Judgement reversed.

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