Quimbee logo with url
From our private database of 14,900+ case briefs...

Attorney General v. Desilets

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
636 N.E.2d 233 (1994)


Two brothers (defendants) owned an apartment building located in the State of Massachusetts. The brothers refused to rent an apartment to an unmarried couple, on the basis that doing so would violate the brothers’ religious principles. The couple filed a housing discrimination complaint with an anti-discrimination commission, claiming that the brothers’ denial violated G.L. c. 151B, § 4(6). The statute prohibits landlords from refusing to rent on the basis of marital status. Following the commission’s probable-cause finding, the couple sought a judicial determination in superior court. The Attorney General (plaintiff) then sued the brothers in superior court on the couple’s behalf. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. The judge granted only the brothers’ motion, on the basis that application of G.L. c. 151B, § 4(6) to the brothers would be unconstitutional. The Attorney General sought direct appellate review in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The brothers asserted that applying G.L. c. 151B, § 4(6) to them violated their state and federal constitutional rights. The brothers also asserted that they were not violating the statute, because the conduct of intercourse, and not marital status, was the basis of the denial of housing to the couple.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Wilkins, J.)

Dissent (O’Connor, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 284,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,900 briefs, keyed to 201 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.