Roberts v. United States Jaycees
Decided on July 3, 1984; 468 US 609


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Civil Rights (gender)

B. Legal Question Presented:

Did Minnesota's attempts to enforce the anti-discrimination law violate the United States Junior Chamber's (Jaycees) right to free association under the First Amendment?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

According to its bylaws, membership in the United States Jaycees was limited to males between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. Two chapters of the Jaycees in Minnesota admitted women as full members. When the national organization revoked the chapters' licenses, they filed a discrimination claim under a Minnesota anti-discrimination law. Meanwhile, the national organization brought a lawsuit against Kathryn Roberts of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, who was responsible for the enforcement of the anti-discrimination law.

The District Court entered judgment in appellants' favor.  On appeal again, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit concluded that, by requiring the United States Jaycees to admit women as full voting members, the Minnesota Human Rights Act violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the organization's members.

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the case.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Richard L. Varco, Jr. argued the cause for the appellants. Carl D. Hall, Jr. argued the cause for the appellee.
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed by the state of New York, et al. by Robert Abrams, Attorney General of New York, Lawrence S. Kahn, Rosemarie Rhodes, Shelley B. Mayer, and Kim E. Greene, Assistant Attorney General, John K. Van De Kamp, Attorney General of California, Andrea Sheridan Ordin, Chief Assistant Attorney General, and Marian M. Johnston, Deputy Attorney General;  for the Alliance for Women Membership by Danielle E. Benedictis; the American Civil Liberties Union, et al. by Laurence H. Tribe, Burt Neuborne, Isabelle Katz , Pinzler, E. Richard Larson, and Charles S. Sims; Community Business Leaders by Eldon J. Spencer, Jr.; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. by Jack Greenberg, Beth J. Lief, and Judith Reed; National League of Cities, et al. by Lawrence R. Velvel and Elaine D. Kaplan;  National Organization for Women, et al. by Judith I. Avner and Charlotte M. Fischman; and the Women's Issues Network, Inc. by Neil H. Cogan. Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmace were filed by the Boy Scouts of America by Philip A. Lacovara, Malcolm E. Wheeler, George A. Davidson, and David K. Park; the Conference of Private Organizations by Leonard J. Henzke, Jr.;  and Rotary International by William P. Sutter and William John Kennedy.

IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"Application of the Act to appellee to compel it to accept women as regular members does not abridge either the male members' freedom of intimate association or their freedom of expressive association… local chapters lack the distinctive characteristics that might afford constitutional protection to their members' decision to exclude women… By prohibiting gender discrimination in places of public accommodation, the Act protects the State's citizenry from a number of serious social and personal harms… There is no basis in the record for concluding that admission of women as full voting members will impede appellee's ability to engage in its constitutionally protected civic, charitable, lobbying, fundraising, and other activities, or to disseminate its preferred views… [T]he Act, as construed, does not create an unacceptable risk of application to a substantial amount of protected conduct."

Reversed: The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed.

Justice Vote: 7 Pro vs. 0 Con

  • Brennan, W. Pro (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Stevens, J. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Marshall, T. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Powell, L. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Rehnquist, W. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • White, B. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • O’Connor, S. Pro (Wrote concurring opinion)
  • Burger, W. (Took no part in the decision making process)
  • Blackmun, H. (Took no part in the decision making process)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU filed as amicus urging reversal; the United States Supreme Court reversed the lower court's ruling in a 7-0 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent win.