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Flashcards in State Action Deck (7):

State Action

The constitution generally prohibits only governmental infringement of constitutional rights. Thus, to find an action unconstitutional, it is necessary to attribute the action to the state, which includes government agencies and officials acting under state law.


State Action Requirements

A statute is automatically state action.
State Action can be found in the actions of private individuals who: 1. perform exclusive public functions, or 2. have significant state involvement in their activities.


Exclusive Public Functions

Certain activities are so traditionally the exclusive prerogative of the state that they constitute state action even when undertaken by private parties. 2 instances: 1. running elections for public office, and 2. running a company town.


Significant State Involvement (Entanglement)

State action exists when a state affirmatively facilitates, encourages, or authorizes acts of discrimination by its citizens. There must be some sort of affirmative act by the state approving the private action; it is not enough that the state permits the conduct to occur.


Instances of Significant State Involvement (Entanglement)

The analysis must focus on the connection between the state and the conduct, not the connection between the state and the defendant:
1. Official Encouragement
2. State Authorization
3. State as Lessor for Racially Discriminatory Lesee
4. Administration of private discriminatory trust by public officials
5. Entwinement of state and private entities


Instances of Insignificant State Involvement (Entanglement)

Things that will not lead to a finding of state action:
1. Heavily regulated business and/or granting of a monopoly to a utility
2. Licensing and provision of essential services
3. Congressional grant of corporate charter and exclusive name
4. No government duty to protect individuals from harm by private persons.
5. Subsidy by itself is not enough for state action.



No constitutional mandate to outlaw discrimination. States are forbidden by the constitution to encourage or authorize it.