MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
A criminal information filed in a Florida state court charged that these eighteen appellants had violated
At the trial, the Shell's City management explained that, while Negroes were welcomed as customers in the store's other departments, serving Negroes in the restaurant would be "very detrimental to our business" because of the objections of white customers. After these facts had been brought out during the examination of the State's witnesses, appellants moved for a directed verdict on the ground that their arrest, prosecution, and conviction by the State on this evidence would amount to state discrimination against them on account of color, thereby violating the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws. This motion was denied. The
In this case we do not reach the broad question whether the Fourteenth Amendment of its own force forbids a State to arrest and prosecute those who, having been asked to leave a restaurant because of their color, refuse to do so. For here there are additional circumstances which, we think, call for reversal because of our holding in Peterson v. City of Greenville, 373 U.S. 244. The petitioners in Peterson were convicted of trespass in violation of a city ordinance after they had seated themselves at a lunch counter and remained there over the manager's protest. At that time, however, there existed another Greenville ordinance which made it unlawful for restaurants to serve meals to white persons and colored persons in the same room or at the same table or counter. In Peterson the city argued that the manager's refusal to serve Negroes was based on his own personal preference, which did not amount to "state action" forbidden by the Fourteenth Amendment. But we held that the case must be decided on the basis of what the ordinance required people to do, not on the basis of what the manager wanted to do. We said:
See also Lombard v. Louisiana, 373 U.S. 267.
In the present case, when appellants were arrested and tried the Florida Board of Health had in effect a regulation, adopted under "authority of the Florida Legislature" and applicable to restaurants, which provided that "where colored persons are employed or accommodated" separate toilet and lavatory rooms must be provided.
While these Florida regulations do not directly and expressly forbid restaurants to serve both white and colored people together, they certainly embody a state policy putting burdens upon any restaurant which serves both races, burdens bound to discourage the serving of the two races together. Of course, state action, of the kind that falls within the proscription of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, may be brought about through the State's administrative and regulatory agencies just as through its legislature. Cf. Lombard v. Louisiana, supra, 373 U. S., at 273. Here as in Peterson v. City of Greenville, supra, we conclude that the State through its regulations has become involved to such a
The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS would reverse the judgment below for the reasons stated in his opinion in No. 12, Bell v. Maryland, post, p. 242.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, considering himself bound by Peterson v. City of Greenville, 373 U.S. 244, acquiesces in the judgment of the Court.