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Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees

Exclusive Clubs And Discrimination

Inasmuch as a club truly is private,the Constitution offers little to impede its members from restricting membership. Not only is there an idea of freedom of association derived from the First Amendment, but the Constitution itself is designed to place restraints on government, not on individuals. Yet where discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, or other such factors can be clearly demonstrated, and where a club is clearly public, then the Supreme Court has tended to support a "compelling state interest" that overrides the desires of the club's members to keep out others.

If an individual can compel a club to open its doors, as occurred in Roberts, could such an exercise of civil rights jeopardize civil liberties in some other sector? The Constitution is a document with almost nothing to say about the private lives of citizens. To accommodate the government's intrusion into personal associations in the Constitution might be equally as dangerous as permitting acts of blatant discrimination.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees - Significance, Rebellion In The Ranks, Never Say Die, The Supreme Court Decides, Exclusive Clubs And Discrimination