Rehearing and Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc Denied December 16, 1971.
HAYNSWORTH, Chief Judge:
The question is whether the Wheaton-Haven Recreation Association, a non-profit group operating a member-owned swimming pool, is required to admit persons as members or guests without regard to race. We find neither the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1981 & 1982) nor the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C.A. § 2000a et seq.) applicable to this association and affirm the order of the District Court granting summary judgment for the defendants.
The pertinent facts are not in dispute, and, as stated by the District Court, are as follows:
Wheaton-Haven was organized in 1958 for the purpose of operating a swimming pool in an area of Silver Spring, Maryland. The pool was financed by subscriptions for membership collected from persons residing in the area. The pool presently charges a $375 initiation fee and annual dues of $50-$60. Under the by-laws, membership is open to "bona fide residents (whether or not homeowners) of the area within a three-quarter mile radius of the pool." Members may be taken from anywhere outside the three-quarter mile
Membership, which is by family units rather than by individuals, was limited to 325 families, but that limit has never been reached.
Only members and their guests are admitted to the pool. Members of the general public cannot gain admittance by payment of an entrance fee.
Dr. and Mrs. Harry C. Press, two of the Negro plaintiffs, own a home within the three-quarter mile radius of the pool. The previous owner of the home was not a member of Wheaton-Haven. In 1968 Dr. Press sought to obtain an application for membership from members of the Board of Directors, who declined to furnish him with an application. The stipulated reason for their refusal was his race.
Mr. and Mrs. Murray Tillman are members of Wheaton-Haven. The Tillmans brought Mrs. Grace Rosner, a Negro, to the pool as their guest. She was admitted. Within a few days, Wheaton-Haven promulgated a rule limiting guests to relatives of members. Mrs. Rosner has been refused admission as a guest of the Tillmans since then. Her admission on the first occasion was at least partially responsible for the adoption of the guest limitation rule, although it was also intended to reduce the burgeoning number of guests using the pool.
The pool was constructed by a Virginia building contractor. The pool's operation involves the use of machinery manufactured outside Maryland. Snack vending machines are located in the pool area. All of the facilities are in an enclosed area accessible only to members and their guests.
Construction of the pool was done pursuant to a special exception under the zoning ordinances of Montgomery County, Maryland granted by the Montgomery County Board of Appeals. A special exception is unlike a variance; its grant is required whenever an applicant demonstrates compliance with certain conditions. Wheaton-Haven was required to demonstrate its financial responsibility by submitting evidence that 60 per cent of its projected construction costs were obligated or subscribed.
Wheaton-Haven pays state and local real property taxes but is exempt from state and federal income taxes under Md. Code Ann., Art. 81, § 288(d) (8) and 26 U.S.C.A. § 501(c) (7).
The plaintiffs contend that Wheaton-Haven's discriminatory denial of membership to Dr. Press violates 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1981 and 1982
The plaintiffs further argue that Wheaton-Haven is a "covered establishment" under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C.A. § 2000a) as a place of entertainment affecting commerce, and that it does not qualify for the "private club" exemption from the Act's requirement of non-discrimination because, as a matter of law, it is not private under the principles of Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, 396 U.S. 229, 90 S.Ct. 400, 24 L.Ed. 2d 386.
In arguing that Wheaton-Haven's racial limitation on membership is forbidden by the 1866 Civil Rights Act, the plaintiffs perforce seek the application of the interpretation placed upon § 1982 in Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., supra. Their reliance on Jones is misplaced, for in that case the Supreme Court had to consider only the Act of 1866. It was not faced with the question whether a specific provision of a subsequently enacted statute may have limited its effect.
However, the Act of 1964 contains an express proviso that in certain limited cases, involving the admissions policies of "a private club or other establishment not in fact open to the public,"
Since the decision in Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, 396 U.S. 229, 90 S.Ct. 400, 24 L.Ed.2d 386, the analysis of an organization's claim to exemption from federal requirements of non-discrimination has acquired a double aspect. The threshold question is whether the organization is one which satisfies the traditional tests of privacy. See Daniel v. Paul, 395 U.S. 298, 89 S.Ct. 1697, 23 L.Ed.2d 318, NeSmith v. Y.M.C.A. of Raleigh, North Carolina, 4 Cir., 397 F.2d 96, United States v. Richberg, 5 Cir., 398 F.2d 523. Sullivan introduced an additional consideration, however. To qualify for the exemption an organization must not only be private internally; it must, in addition, be not so intimately related to an establishment or transaction in which non-discrimination is required that it can be said to be a part of, or its membership an incident to, the larger, basically commercial, establishment or transaction. If such a relationship exists, the organization, no matter how internally private it may be, will be subjected to any requirement of non-discrimination that may be applicable to the other.
Little Hunting Park is a Virginia nonstock corporation which operates recreational facilities. Its membership was limited to persons who resided in or owned property in the Bucknell Manor, Beacon Manor, White Oaks and Bucknell Heights residential subdivisions in Fairfax County, Virginia.
The state trial court declined to scrutinize the reasons for Sullivan's expulsion because it regarded Little Hunting Park as a "private and social" club, and denied relief. The Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia denied a writ of error. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that 42 U.S.C.A. § 1982, which it had held in Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., supra, to forbid all private racial discrimination in the sale or lease of real and personal property, applied to Sullivan's transfer to Freeman of the membership share as a part of the lease of his home.
Sullivan thus decided affirmatively a question expressly reserved in Jones— whether an incident to a transaction in which the parties are protected from racial discrimination by § 1982 is similarly protected.
Initially, it should be observed that the sort of transaction out of which the dispute in Sullivan arose, under no circumstances, could have arisen with respect to Wheaton-Haven. Unlike Little Hunting Park, Wheaton-Haven does not allow one person to own multiple memberships. Membership is by family units. An eligible family may have one membership, which entitles only family members and guests (relatives only, under its current rules) to use the pool. Thus a member of Wheaton-Haven cannot engage in the "business" of renting out his right to use Wheaton-Haven's facilities,
That a membership cannot be leased does not, of course, end the inquiry. If it is transferred as an incident to a sale of property, the membership would be subject to the same requirement of non-discrimination that § 1982 imposes on the major transaction. On this point the plaintiffs place their principal reliance. Under the by-laws, if a member of Wheaton-Haven who is a property-owner sells his home and resigns his membership,
A first option is not the equivalent of acceptance for membership, although in other circumstances it could be. The holder of a first option receives the right to have his application for membership considered without taking his place at the end of the waiting list. No other rights attach to the option. Because the effect of the option is solely to vault a resigning member's vendee over the heads of persons on the waiting list to receive immediate consideration for a newly vacated membership, it can operate only when the membership rolls are full, and a waiting list exists. Absent a full membership list, the new homeowner receives literally nothing, for his "option" entitles him only to what every other prospective member is entitled to— the right to be considered immediately for membership in an organization which has room for all present applicants. The value of a first option to acquire something which is immediately available in sufficient quantity to supply all who want it is nothing.
Wheaton-Haven's membership rolls are not full and have never been. There are some sixty vacancies out of the authorized membership of 325, a situation which has obtained for several years. Thus, any eligible person, with or without an option, can have an application for membership considered without the necessity of working his way up through a waiting list. The first option, from the founding of Wheaton-Haven through the foreseeable future, is a thing utterly without use or value and, as such, is a functional nullity. It is far too tenuous a thread to support a conclusion that there is a transfer of membership incident to the purchase of property.
The argument, however, mischaracterizes both Wheaton-Haven and Little Hunting Park in an attempt to make them appear functionally identical. The sources of members for the two organizations are markedly different. Although Sullivan did not expressly hold that Little Hunting Park would be required to admit any eligible person to membership without racial discrimination, it is reasonably inferable from the opinion, and we will assume here that a general requirement of non-discrimination in member selection is imposed by Sullivan on any organization which stands in the same relationship to the area from which it draws members as does Little Hunting Park to the area it serves.
Little Hunting Park drew members only from four named residential subdivisions. Some confusion is created by the fact, pointed out by the plaintiffs, that some of its members resided elsewhere. However, it should be noted that one need not reside in the named subdivisions in order to purchase a membership share in Little Hunting Park. One need only own property there.
Fundamental differences are at once apparent. Little Hunting Park appears to be characteristic of the sort of recreational facilities frequently installed in modern real estate developments, which are included by the developers to enhance their sales of individual properties, and which are "private" in the sense that they serve only those persons who purchase from the developers. The right to use the recreational facilities is incidental to, or part of, the rights acquired directly with the acquisition of possessory rights in a lot in one of the designated subdivisions.
The contrary is suggested by Wheaton-Haven's organization and structure, and confirmed by its history. Its benefits are not limited to those who deal commercially with a particular developer or group of them, and its members are not limited to, nor does it purport to serve all of, the "general public" in any recognizable community. There is an area preference, and nothing more, in the provision that not more than thirty per cent of the memberships may be awarded to persons who reside more than three quarters of a mile from the pool.
The difference between a real estate developer who builds recreational facilities, the use of which he restricts to those persons who purchase his homesites, and a voluntarily associated group of neighborhood residents who, desiring a facility for their use, band together to build one, and who, desiring that most of their group should be reasonably near neighbors, set up a proportional preference for persons living near the facility, is one which goes to the very heart of the difference between public and private. The history of Wheaton-Haven's formation and development, noted briefly above, demonstrates that it is just such a voluntary and spontaneous organization. The District Court correctly found Sullivan inapplicable to such an organization.
There remains the question whether Wheaton-Haven is a "private club or other establishment not in fact open to the public." Although the preceding discussion may suggest the answer, the point requires separate consideration, as there are additional factors which must be taken into account in order to make a full determination of the claim for exemption under the specific terms of the 1964 Act.
The cases under 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000a (e) are now so numerous, and the standards applicable in determining a claim for exemption so often discussed, that it would serve no purpose to list those standards.
Certain of its features are obvious indicators of its private nature. Its
Wheaton-Haven does not hold itself out in any way as serving the general public, whether that aggregate be considered from the standpoint of Maryland, Montgomery County, Silver Spring or the three quarter mile circle from which seventy per cent of the members are drawn. The membership limitation is such that even if the "general public" is regarded as including only the residents of the last, most severely delimited area, Wheaton-Haven has deliberately avoided any attempt or claim to serve the group as a whole.
For purposes of federal and state taxation Wheaton-Haven is classified as other private clubs.
The final test, and one of the more important ones, is the test of exclusivity. The test is an elusive one, because in many cases the membership requirements of a genuine private organization, though real, are not susceptible to precise definition. In essence, a private club is a
That standards are not immediately and precisely ascertainable, however, does not mean that they do not exist. Some considerations of social and financial standing are implicit in the size of the fees and dues. There are selective elements other than race alone. Rejection of white applicants is, though rare, not unheard of. The record does not contain the reason for the rejection, but the application of one white man was rejected.
In sum, although Wheaton-Haven's membership admittedly, is racially identifiable, it has been influenced by other criteria. Given the fact that its form of organization, its manner of operation, and its member activities are all characteristic of a bona fide private club rather than a place of public accommodation, and that it clearly meets the only express test set out by Congress—that it be "not in fact open to the public"—we cannot say that its inability to produce a detailed set of clear, precise and unmistakable standards for membership marks it as a covered establishment. From the standpoint of all the relevant factors taken as a whole, it has demonstrated that it is private, within the meaning of the federal statute.
A brief comment is in order concerning the participation in the case of Montgomery County. The County has enacted an anti-discrimination ordinance, which it has sought to have applied to Wheaton-Haven.
BUTZNER, Circuit Judge (dissenting):
I would have granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary reversal because the judgment dismissing their claim is a marked departure from authoritative precedent construing those provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 codified as 42 U.S.C. § 1982 (1970).
The bylaws of the Wheaton-Haven Recreation Association, Inc. provide that membership "shall be open" to residents who live within three-quarters of a mile of the pool, subject to a stated maximum number of families and to approval of the association acting through its members or its board of directors. The by-laws also provide for Wheaton-Haven to repurchase the membership of a member who resigns and sells his home. In that event, the purchaser of the home shall have the first option to buy the membership of the seller from Wheaton-Haven, subject to the approval of the board.
Dr. and Mrs. Harry C. Press own a home in this neighborhood. It is undisputed that they were disqualified from membership for one reason—they are black. Had they been white persons, they could have purchased a membership in Wheaton-Haven. Membership would have afforded them not only a right to use the pool but, of greater significance to this case, it would have allowed them to sell to the eventual purchaser of their home an option to purchase their membership.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 provides in part:
In Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409, 88 S.Ct. 2186, 20 L.Ed.2d 1189 (1968), the Court applied the Act to bar racial discrimination in the sale of a house. The Court cautioned that "Negro citizens * * * would be left with 'a mere paper guarantee' if Congress were powerless to assure that a dollar in the hands of a Negro will purchase the same thing as a dollar in the hands of a white man. At the very least, the freedom that Congress is empowered to secure under the Thirteenth Amendment includes the freedom to buy whatever a white man can buy, the right to live wherever a white man can live. If Congress cannot say that being a free man means at least this much, then the Thirteenth Amendment made a promise the Nation cannot keep." 392 U.S. at 443, 88 S.Ct. at 2205.
Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. establishes beyond doubt that Dr. and Mrs. Press have the same right enjoyed by their white neighbors to purchase, hold,
While the details differ, this case is indistinguishable in all material aspects from Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, Inc., 396 U.S. 229, 90 S.Ct. 400, 24 L.Ed. 2d 386 (1969). Under the bylaws of Little Hunting Park, membership in a swimming pool association was open to residents in an area of Fairfax County, Virginia, and a member could assign his membership to a tenant, subject to the approval of the board of directors. When a white member attempted to assign a membership to his tenant, the board of directors refused approval because the tenant was black. The trial court denied relief to the landlord and tenant on the ground that Little Hunting Park was a private social club. Finding "nothing of the kind," the Supreme Court reversed, saying: "There was no plan or purpose of exclusiveness. It is open to every white person within the geographic area, there being no selective element other than race. * * * It is not material whether the membership share be considered realty or personal property, as § 1982 covers both." 396 U.S. at 236, 90 S.Ct. at 404. And the Court held that the transaction clearly fell within the right to "lease" protected by § 1982. 396 U.S. at 237, 90 S.Ct. 400.
The points of distinction involving the nature of the property right considered in Sullivan and the nature of a Wheaton-Haven membership are not of controlling significance.
It is immaterial that a tenant claimed membership in Little Hunting Park under a lease, while Dr. and Mrs. Press base their claim on ownership of real property situated less than three-quarters of a mile from the pool. Section 1982 protects the rights to "purchase" and "hold" property no less than the right to "lease."
Nor does it matter that families who own no real estate can join Wheaton-Haven or that Dr. and Mrs. Press are seeking to acquire membership on the basis of owning a home instead of exercising an option. Under the bylaws membership is "open" to a white neighbor without the exercise of an option. Having obtained a membership, the neighbor can eventually sell an option for it along with his home in accordance with Wheaton-Haven's bylaws. Since membership in Wheaton-Haven is incident to the ownership of property, it is covered by § 1982.
Similarly, I cannot accept Wheaton-Haven's argument that because the membership rolls are not presently filled the option has little or no value. Several years from now it may well be that a white neighbor can sell his home at a considerably higher price than Dr. and Mrs. Press because the white owner will be able to assure his purchaser of an option for membership in Wheaton-Haven. Dr. and Mrs. Press, however, are denied this advantage. Even though the present value of an option cannot be readily ascertained, a dollar in the hands of Dr. and Mrs. Press, in the language of Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., should be able to purchase at least the same thing as a dollar in the hands of their white neighbors. Section 1982 should not be construed to deny a bargain on the basis of race.
The vice of Wheaton-Haven's discriminatory practices is similar to Little Hunting Park's. In each case ownership of real property by a white person carried with it the right to a transferable membership—a right denied to black persons. Little Hunting Park's transfer by assignment and Wheaton-Haven's use of an option differ only in form, not substance. The congressional commitment to equal rights under the law manifested by the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 cannot be served by viewing this case as a simple exercise in the fine art of conveyancing. The case involves far more. It is an attempt to secure what the proponents of the Act envisioned and the Supreme Court has preserved—the "great fundamental rights" of "all men,
I doubt the pertinency of the claim that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 is circumscribed or limited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
To maintain its claim of privacy, Wheaton-Haven points to its rejection of one white applicant since 1958, and its counsel in oral argument asserted that other persons had been informally rejected. But the record and counsel's excursion outside it do not establish that any homeowner living within three-quarters of a mile of the pool was denied membership or that any person acquiring an option with his purchase of a house was turned away.
It is difficult to believe that a club is private when its membership is so closely tied to real estate bought and sold on the open market. Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park holds that in a similar context the test of a private club is whether there is "a plan or purpose of exclusiveness." 396 U.S. at 236, 90 S.Ct. at 404. Here there is none save race. As far as this record shows, Wheaton-Haven's bylaws mean just what they say: membership is "open" to residents within a specified geographic area and membership can be transferred to the purchaser of a member's house. It is immaterial that membership initially and by transfer is subject to the approval of the corporation either through its members or its board of directors. The bylaws of Little Hunting Park also subjected assignment of membership to approval of the board of directors. But as Sullivan teaches, § 1982 prohibits the board from withholding approval because of race. 396 U.S. at 236.
Wheaton-Haven emphasizes that Little Hunting Park had aspects of commercialism that it lacks. The record before us does not support this conclusion, but even if it did, it would be irrelevant. Sullivan did not turn on this point. The test is not whether the organizers were commercially motivated, but whether there is presently a "plan or purpose of exclusiveness" with respect to membership. 396 U.S. at 236, 90 S.Ct. 400.
Mr. and Mrs. Murray Tillman are white members of the association who brought a black guest, Mrs. Grace Rosner, to the pool. Her visit provoked a change in the bylaws; guests were limited to relatives of members—all of whom are white. Unquestionably Wheaton-Haven can limit the number of guests a member can bring. Similarly, it can refuse to admit guests, regardless of race, who because of their demeanor or age would unduly burden the use of the pool. But otherwise valid limitations cannot be couched directly or indirectly to restrict the race of guests. The Tillman membership is a valuable property right, an incident of which is the right to invite guests. The right would be empty indeed unless the guests have the right to accept. Racial restrictions on the right to invite guests, and to accept invitations, are racial restrictions on the right to hold property that violate § 1982. A white host can vindicate this right. Walker v. Pointer, 304 F.Supp. 56 (N.D.
I would reverse the judgment, enter summary judgment for the plaintiffs, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
ON PETITION FOR REHEARING
In the petition for rehearing the Court's attention was invited to the answer to an interrogatory indicating that the membership list of Wheaton-Haven Recreation Association was full in the spring of 1968 when Dr. Press first became interested in considering a possible application for membership. That answer seems to be contradicted by an answer to another interrogatory reporting the admission of three new members before any intervening resignation, but finds general support in a deposition of a member of Wheaton-Haven's board who championed the cause of the admission of Dr. Press.
The briefs, the appendices, and the findings of the district court all seemed to warrant the statement in the opinion that the membership list had never been full. That inadvertent misstatement is now corrected to reflect a full membership list in the spring of 1968. The result is unaffected, however, for it is clear that the membership did drop off thereafter, that Dr. Press would have been admitted without delay except for the fact that his submission of a formal application was foreclosed by the resolution adopted by the members in the fall of 1968, and that there has been no waiting list since then. The situation with respect to the presence or absence of vacancies in the membership list has relevance only prospectively from the date of that meeting of the membership.
The petition for rehearing and the suggestion for rehearing en banc having been considered, the court having been polled and less than a majority of the panel having voted for a rehearing and less than a majority of the court having voted for a rehearing en banc, the petition for rehearing and the suggestion for rehearing en banc are both denied.
WINTER and CRAVEN, Circuit Judges, dissenting:
We dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc.
For the reasons expressed by Judge Butzner, the dissenting member of the panel which decided the case, we think the instant case is indistinguishable from Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, Inc., 396 U.S. 299, 90 S.Ct. 400, 24 L.Ed. 2d 386 (1969), and plaintiffs are entitled to judgment on its authority.
Even if our reading of Little Hunting Park is erroneous, we deplore the majority's arriving at the dubious holding that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was impliedly repealed in part by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when that question has been neither briefed nor argued. A holding of that importance and scope— and one apparently in conflict with decisions of other courts that have considered the question—should be reached if not by the court sitting en banc, then at least by the panel hearing the case, only after full adversary treatment by the parties.
"All citizens of the United States shall have the same right, in every State and Territory, as is enjoyed by white citizens thereof to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property." 42 U.S.C.A. § 1982.
Nor can it be argued that the exemption contained in the 1964 Act merely exempted private clubs from its remedial portions, while leaving exempted organizations subject to substantive prohibitions contained in the 1866 Act. Although later interpretations of §§ 1981 and 1982 have rendered its assumption dubious, it is unquestionable that in 1964 Congress acted in the belief that in outlawing discrimination in public accommodations, it was writing on a clean slate. The Senate report notes that the one previous congressional enactment of a sweeping public accommodations law had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1883, and much of the report was devoted to a discussion in support of congressional authority to prohibit discrimination. S.Rep. No.872, 1964 U.S.Code Cong. & Admin. News, pp. 2355, 2366. The Act generated an almost unparalleled amount of debate in Congress and in the nation at large, and its exceptions were subjected to particular scrutiny. "Mrs. Murphy's roominghouse" came into the language as a generic classification during the debates. The remarks of both proponents and opponents of the Act make it clear that it was intended to outlaw racial discrimination in the furnishing of certain kinds of goods and services, except in the case of a few types of very small businesses and private organizations, to which no prohibition against discrimination was to extend. See remarks of Sen. Humphrey and Sen. Long, 110 Cong.Rec. 13697. Congressmen both favoring and opposing the enactment of a public accommodations law attacked the Act as written for making distinctions between permitted and prohibited discrimination. See H.Rep.No. 914, Additional Majority Views of Rep. Kastenmeier, 1964 U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News, pp. 2391, 2409; Separate Minority Views of Reps. Poff and Cramer, Id., p. 2462. The majority, however, justified the exemption for private clubs as an appropriate recognition of rights of privacy and associational preferences in cases "where freedom of association might logically come into play * * *." Additional [Majority] Views on H.R. 7152 of Reps. McCulloch, Lindsay, Cahill, Shriver, MacGregor, Mathias and Bromwell, Id., p. 2487 at p. 2495.
Population figures are not included in the record. However, it is manifest that in a nearby suburb of Washington, D. C., a residential area including almost two square miles will have a number of residents exceeding by many times the number which Wheaton-Haven was designed to serve.
Dr. Press, of course, was rejected in exactly this manner. Because he was never allowed to make a formal application for membership, he would not appear on Wheaton-Haven's books as having been rejected, despite the fact that we know he was.