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You Just Think You Have the Right To Refuse Service

Summary:
Not having a car when in San Diego late last month, I did a lot of walking. A sign I saw posted in the front window of a convenience store I entered intrigued me. It intrigued me so much that I wrote down what it said: “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone for Any Reason.” Just a few blocks away, I saw while riding the San Diego MTS trolley a homeless guy being refused entry to a 7-Eleven by a uniformed security guard. The disheveled guy then stood outside of the store yelling at the top of his lungs. The thought unfortunately came to mind while pondering the sign and the incident at these convenience stores: You just think you have the right to refuse service. Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “Injunctive

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Not having a car when in San Diego late last month, I did a lot of walking. A sign I saw posted in the front window of a convenience store I entered intrigued me. It intrigued me so much that I wrote down what it said: “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone for Any Reason.”

Just a few blocks away, I saw while riding the San Diego MTS trolley a homeless guy being refused entry to a 7-Eleven by a uniformed security guard. The disheveled guy then stood outside of the store yelling at the top of his lungs.

The thought unfortunately came to mind while pondering the sign and the incident at these convenience stores: You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “Injunctive Relief against Discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation,” section 201 states,

(a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

(b) Each of the following establishments which serves the public is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of this title if its operations affect commerce, or if discrimination or segregation by it is supported by State action:

(1) any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, other than an establishment located within a building which contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and which is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as his residence;

(2) any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station;

(3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment; and

(4) any establishment (A)(i) which is physically located within the premises of any establishment otherwise covered by this subsection, or (ii) within the premises of which is physically located any such covered establishment, and (B) which holds itself out as serving patrons of such covered establishment.

As numerous bakers, florists, and T-shirt makers have found out recently, there is no right in America—“the land of the free” “where at least I know I’m free”—to refuse service to anyone for any reason.

Are you a black business owner who wants to refuse to serve Asians? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a white business owner who wants to refuse to serve blacks? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a Christian business owner who wants to refuse to serve Muslims? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a Jewish business owner who wants to refuse to serve Gentiles? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a Republican business owner who wants to refuse to serve Democrats? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a conservative business owner who wants to refuse to serve liberals? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a capitalist business owner who wants to refuse to serve socialists? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a male business owner who wants to refuse to serve females? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a heterosexual business owner who wants to refuse to serve homosexuals? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a Protestant business owner who wants to refuse to serve Catholics? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a religious business owner who wants to refuse to serve atheists? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a traditionalist business owner who wants to refuse to serve members of the LGBT community? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a rich business owner who wants to refuse to serve the poor? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a healthy business owner who wants to refuse to serve the disabled? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a well-dressed business owner who wants to refuse to serve the shabbily dressed? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a bald business owner who wants to refuse to serve bearded men? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you an American business owner who wants to refuse to serve foreigners? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you an English-speaking business owner who wants to refuse to serve Spanish speakers? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Are you a pacifist business owner who wants to refuse to serve veterans? You just think you have the right to refuse service.

Now, business owners refusing to serve people just because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, appearance, disability, or ideology might be bigoted, prejudiced, sexist, irrational, illogical, unreasonable, or just plain stupid, but since discrimination is not aggression, force, or violence, it shouldn’t matter, insofar as the law is concerned, on what basis the discrimination takes place, why the discrimination occurs, or how nonsensical the discrimination is.

To outlaw discrimination is to outlaw freedom of thought. By their very nature, the natural rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of association, free enterprise, and freedom of contract include the right to discriminate.

Public accommodations are still private businesses. Just because they serve the public by offering to sell them goods and/or services doesn’t mean that they should be regarded as public libraries, public parks, and public buildings that have to accept all members of the public.

Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent federal anti-discrimination and public accommodations laws are an illegitimate function of government and an unconstitutional expansion of federal power.

If an individual can discriminate against a business owner in any way, for any reason, and on any basis, then why can’t a business owner likewise discriminate against an individual?

There is no “right to service.”

In a free society, business owners have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason on any basis.

In a free society, no one has any legal recourse if a business refuses to serve him.

In a free society, there are no “public accommodation” laws.

In a free society, there are no anti-discrimination laws.

Laurence M. Vance
Laurence M. Vance is an author, a publisher, a lecturer, a freelance writer, the editor of the Classic Reprints series, and the director of the Francis Wayland Institute. He holds degrees in history, theology, accounting, and economics. The author of twenty-four books, he has contributed over 700 articles and book reviews to both secular and religious periodicals.

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