Tillman v. Wheaton-Haven Recreation Association, Inc.

410 U.S. 431 (1973)

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Tillman v. Wheaton-Haven Recreation Association, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
410 U.S. 431 (1973)

Facts

Wheaton-Haven Recreation Association, Inc. (the association) (defendant) operated a community swimming pool. Under association bylaws, any resident who lived within three-quarters of a mile of the pool could apply for membership without recommendation. Such a resident received a preferential place on any waiting list, and any resident-member who sold a home conferred on the purchaser a first option on the vacancy created by the resident-member’s resignation. A person residing outside the preferred area could apply for membership only upon a member’s recommendation, received no preferential place on the waiting list, and had no ability to confer the option on a purchaser. Only members and their guests were admitted to the pool. In the spring of 1968, Dr. Harry Press, a Black man who had purchased a home from a nonmember within the preference area, inquired about pool membership but was never given an application. In the summer of 1968, after members Murray and Rosalind Tillman brought their guest Grace Rosner, a Black woman, to the pool, the association adopted a policy to prevent members from having Black guests at the pool. Rosner was refused admission to the pool as the Tillmans’ guest under the new policy, which the membership reaffirmed in the fall of 1968. In 1969 Dr. Press, his wife, the Tillmans, and Rosner filed suit against the association, alleging racial discrimination under various provisions of the federal Civil Rights Act, including 42 U.S.C. § 1982. The district and appellate courts ruled for the association after finding that it was a private club exempt from the nondiscrimination provisions of the act. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in 1972.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Blackmun, J.)

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