Daniel v. Paul/Opinion of the Court

Daniel v. Paul
Opinion of the Court by William J. Brennan, Jr.
Court Documents
Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Concurring Opinion
Dissenting Opinion

United States Supreme Court

395 U.S. 298

Doris DANIEL and Rosalyn Kyles, Petitioners,  v.  Euell PAUL, Jr., etc.

 Argued: March 24, 25, 1969. --- Decided: June 2, 1969

Petitioners, Negro residents of Little Rock, Arkansas, brought this class action in the District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to enjoin respondent from denying them admission to a recreational facility called Lake Nixon Club owned and operated by respondent, Euell Paul, and his wife. The complaint alleged that Lake Nixon Club was a 'public accommodation' subject to the provisions of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 243, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a et seq., and that respondent violated the Act in refusing petitioners admission solely on racial grounds. [1] After trial, the District Court, although finding that respondent had refused petitioners admission solely because they were Negroes, [2] dismissed the complaint on the ground that Lake Nixon Club was not within any of the categories of 'public accommodations' covered by the 1964 Act. Kyles v. Paul, 263 F.Supp. 412 (D.C.1967). The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed, one judge dissenting. 395 F.2d 118 (1968). We granted certiorari. 393 U.S. 975, 89 S.Ct. 444, 21 L.ed.2d 437 (1968). We reverse.

Lake Nixon Club, located 12 miles west of Little Rock, is a 232-acre amusement area with swimming, boating, sun bathing, picnicking, miniature golf, dancing facilities, and a snack bar. The Pauls purchased the Lake Nixon site in 1962 and subsequently operated this amusement business there in a racially segregated manner.

Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 enacted a sweeping prohibition of discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin at places of public accommodation whose operations affect commerce. [3] This prohibition does not et end to discrimination or segregation at private clubs. [4] But, as both courts below properly found, Lake Nixon is not a private club. It is simply a business operated for a profit with none of the attributes of self-government and member-ownership traditionally associated with private clubs. It is true that following enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pauls began to refer to the establishment as a private club. They even began to require patrons to pay a 25-cent 'membership' fee, which gains a purchaser a 'membership' card entitling him to enter the Club's premises for an entire season and, on payment of specified additional fees, to use the swimming, boating, and miniature golf facilities. But this 'membership' device seems no more than a subterfuge designed to avoid coverage of the 1964 Act. White persons are routinely provided 'membership' cards, and some 100,000 whites visit the establishment each season. As the District Court found, Lake Nixon is 'open in general to all of the public who are members of the white race.' 263 F.Supp., at 418. Negroes, on the other hand, are uniformly denied 'membership' cards, and thus admission, because of the Pauls' fear that integration would 'ruin' the 'business.' The conclusion of the courts below that Lake Nixon is not a private club is plainly correct-indeed, respondent does not challenge that conclusion here.

We therefore turn to the question whether Lake Nixon Club is 'a place of public accommodation' as defined by § 201(b) of the 1964 Act, and, if so, whether its operations 'affect commerce' within the meaning of § 201(c) of that Act.

Section 201(b) defines four categories of establishments as covered public accommodations. Three of these categories are relevant here:

'Each of the following establishments which serves the public is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of this title if its operations affect commerce * * *.

* * *

'(2) any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station;

'(3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment; and

'(4) any establishment (A) * * * (ii) within the premises of which is physically located any such covered establishment, and (B) which holds itself out as serving patrons of such covered establishment.'

Section 201(c) sets forth standards for determining whether the operations of an establishment in any of these categories affect commerce within the meaning of Title II:

'The operations of an establishment affect commerce within the meaning of this title if * * * (2) in the case of an establishment described in paragraph (2) [set out supra] * * *, it serves or offers to serve interstate travelers or a substantial portion of the food which it serves, or gasoline or other products which it sells, has moved in commerce; (3) in the case of an establishment described in paragraph (3) [set out supra] * * *, it customarily presents films, performances, athletic teams, exhibitions, or other sources of entertainment which move in commerce; and () in the case of an establishment described in paragraph (4) [set out supra] * * *, there is physically located within its premises, an establishment the operations of which affect commerce within the meaning of this subsection. For purposes of this section, 'commerce' means travel, trade, traffic, commerce, transportation, or communication among the several States * * *.'

Petitioners argue first that Lake Nixon's snack bar is a covered public accommodation under §§ 201(a)(2) and 201(c)(2), and that as such it brings the entire establishment within the coverage of Title II under §§ 201(b)(4) and 201(c)(4). Clearly, the snack bar is 'principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises.' Thus, it is a covered public accommodation if 'it serves or offers to serve interstate travelers or a substantial portion of the food which it serves * * * has moved in commerce.' We find that the snack bar is a covered public accommodation under either of these standards.

The Pauls advertise the Lake Nixon Club in a monthly magazine called 'Little Rock Today,' which is distributed to guests at Little Rock hotels, motels, and restaurants, to acquaint them with available tourist attractions in the area. Regular advertisements for Lake Nixon were also broadcast over two area radio stations. In addition, Lake Nixon has advertised in the 'Little Rock Air Force Base,' a monthly newspaper published at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas. This choice of advertising media leaves no doubt that the Pauls were seeking broad-based patronage from an audience which they knew to include interstate travelers. Thus, the Lake Nixon Club unquestionably offered to serve out-of-state visitors to the Little Rock area. And it would be unrealistic to assume that none of the 100,000 patrons actually served by the Club each season was an interstate traveler. [5] Since the Lake Nixon Club offered to serve and served out-of-state persons, and since the Club's snack bar was established to serve all patrons of the entire facility, we must conclude that the snack bar offered to serve and served out-of-state persons. See Hamm v. City of Rock Hill, 379 U.S. 306, 309, 85 S.Ct. 384, 388, 13 L.Ed.2d 300 (1964); see also Wooten v. Moore, 400 F.2d 239 (C.A. 4th Cir. 1968).

The record, although not as complete on this point as might be desired, also demonstrates that a 'substantial portion of the food' served by the Lake Nixon Club snack bar has moved in interstate commerce. The snack bar serves a limited fare-hot dogs and hamburgers on buns, soft drinks, and milk. The District Court took judicial notice of the fact that the 'principal ingredients going into the bread were produced and processed in other States' and that 'certain ingredients [of the soft drinks] were probably obtained * * * from out-of State sources.' 263 F.Supp., at 418. Thus, at the very least, three of the four food items sold at the snack bar contain ingredients originating outside of the State. There can be no serious doubt that a 'substantial portion of the food' served at the snack bar has moved in interstate commerce. See Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294, 296-297, 85 S.Ct. 377, 379-380, 13 L.Ed.2d 290 (1964); Gregory v. Meyer, 376 F.2d 509, 511, n. 1 (C.A 5th Cir. 1967).

The snack bar's status as a covered establishment automatically brings the entire Lake Nixon facility within the ambit of Title II. Civil Rights Act of 1964, §§ 201(b)(4) and 201(c)(4), set out supra; see H. R. Rep. No. 914, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 20; Fazzio Real Estate Co. v. Adams, 396 F.2d 146 (C.A. 5th Cir. 1968). [6]

Petitioners also argue that the Lake Nixon Club is a covered public accomodation under §§ 201(b)(3) and 201(c)(3) of the 1964 Act. These sections proscribe discrimination by 'any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment' which 'customarily presents films, performances, athletic teams, exhibitions, or other sources of intertainment which move in commerce.' Under any accepted definition of 'entertainment,' the Lake Nixon Club would surely qualify as a 'place of entertainment.' [7] And indeed it advertises itself as such. [8] Respondent argues, however, that in the context of § 201(b)(3) 'place of entertainment' refers only to establishments where patrons are entertained as spectators or listeners rather than those where entertainment takes the form of direct participation in some sport or activity. We find no support in the legislative history for respondent's reading of the statute. The few indications of legislative intent are to the contrary.

President Kennedy, in submitting to Congress the public accommodations provisions of the proposed Civil Rights Act, emphasized that 'no action is more contrary to the spirit of our democracy and Constitution-or more rightfully resented by a Negro citizen who seeks only equal treatment-than the barring of that citizen from restaurants, hotels, theatres, recreational areas and other public accommodations and facilities.' [9] (Emphasis added.) While Title II was being considered by the Senate, a civil rights demonstration occurred at a Maryland amusement park. The then Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate, Hubert Humphrey, took note of the demonstration and opined that such an amusement park would be covered by the provisions which were eventually enacted as Title II:

'In this particular instance, I am confident that merchandise and facilities used in the park were transported across State lines.

* * *

'The spectacle of national church leaders being hauled off to jail in a paddy wagon demonstrates the absurdity of the present situation regarding equal access to public facilities in Maryland and the absurdity of the arguments of those who oppose title II of the President's omnibus civil rights bill.' 109 Cong.Rec. 12276 (1963).

Senator Magnuson, floor manager of Title II, spoke in a similar vein. [10]

Admittedly, most of the discussion in Congress regarding the coverage of Title II focused on places of spectator entertainment rather than recreational areas. But it does not follow that the scope of § 201(b)(3) should be restricted to the primary objects of Congress' concern when a natural reading of its language would call for broader coverage. In light of the overriding purpose of Title II 'to move the daily affront and humiliation involved in discriminatory denials of access to facilities ostensibly open to the general public,' H.R.Rep. No. 914, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 18, we agree with the en banc decision of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Miller v. Amusement Enterprises, Inc., 394 F.2d 342 (1968), that the statutory language 'place of entertainment' should be given full effect according to its generally accepted meaning and applied to recreational areas.

The remaining question is whether the operations of the Lake Nixon Club 'affect commerce' within the meaning of § 201(c)(3). We conclude that they do. Lake Nixon's customary 'sources of entertainment * * * move in commerce.' The Club leases 15 paddle boats on a royalty basis from an Oklahoma company. Another boat was purchased from the same company. The Club's juke box was manufactured outside Arkansas and plays records manufactured outside the State. The legislative history indicates that mechanical sources of entertainment such as these were considered by Congress to be 'sources of entertainment' within the meaning of § 201(c)(3). [11]



  1. Petitioners alleged that the denial of admission also constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as amended, 14 Stat. 27, now 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Neither the District Court nor the Court of Appeals passed on this contention. Our conclusion makes it unnecessary to consider the question.
  2. Respondent at trial answered affirmatively a question of the trial judge whether Negroes were denied admission 'simply * * * because they were Negroes.' Respondent's answer to an interrogatory why Negroes were refused admission was: '[w]e refused admission to them because white people in our community would not patronize us if we admitted Negroes to the swimming pool. Our business would be ruined and we have our entire life savings in it.'
  3. Section 201(a) of the Act provides:
  4. Section 201(e) of the Act provides:
  5. The District Court, which did not find it necessary to decide whether the snack bar served or offered to serve interstate travelers, conceded that: 'It is probably true that some out-of-State people spending time in or around Little Rock have utilized [Lake Nixon's] facilities.' 263 F.Supp., at 418.
  6. Accord: Evans v. Laurel Links, Inc., 261 F.Supp. 474 (D.C.E.D.Va.1966); United States by Clark v. Fraley, 282 F.Supp. 948 (D.C.M.D.N.C.1968); United States by Clark v. All Star Triangle Bowl, Inc., 283 F.Supp. 300 (D.C.S.C.1968).
  7. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, at 757, defines 'entertainment' as 'the act of diverting, amusing, or causing someone's time to pass agreeably: [synonymous with] amusement.'
  8. Respondent advertised over a local radio station that 'Lake Nixon continues their policy of offering you year-round entertainment.'
  9. Special Message to the Congress on Civil Rights and Job Opportunities, June 19, 1963, in Public Papers of the Presidents, John F. Kennedy, 1963, at 485. This statement was originally made in a Special Message to the Congress on Civil Rights, Feb. 28, 1963, in Public Papers, supra, at 228.
  10. 'Motion picture theaters which refuse to admit Negroes will obviously draw patrons from a narrower segment of the market than if they were open to patrons of all races. * * * Thus, the demand for films from out of State, and the royalties from such films, will be less.
  11. The Senate rejected an amendment which would have ruled out most mechanical sources by requiring that the source of entertainment be one which has 'not come to rest within a State.' 110 Cong.Rec. 13915-13921 (1964). See also the remarks of Senator Magnuson, supra, n. 10.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).