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Larkin v. Grendel’s Den, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
459 U.S. 116 (1982)


Section 16C of Chapter 138 of the Massachusetts General Laws prohibits any business located within 500 feet of a church or school from obtaining a license to sell alcohol if the church or school files a written objection to the business’s application. Grendel’s Den, Inc. (Grendel’s Den) (plaintiff), a restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, applied for a liquor license. The Holy Cross American Catholic Parish (Holy Cross) (defendant) was located across the street from Grendel’s Den and objected to the application. Because there were already 25 liquor licenses granted to businesses within 500 feet of the church, Holy Cross did not want additional liquor vendors in the area. Based on Holy Church’s objection, the Cambridge License Commission (the Commission) (defendant) denied Grendel’s Den’s application for a liquor license. Grendel’s Den sued the Commission for violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The district court found in favor of Grendel’s Den, and an en banc court affirmed. The court of appeals also affirmed. The defendants appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

Dissent (Rehnquist, J.)

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