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Old June 5, 2012, 10:37 AM   #95
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 8,701
Originally Posted by vranasaurus
"That the action of state courts and judicial officers in their official capacities is to be regarded as action of the State within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, is a proposition which has long been established by decisions of this Court." - Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 14 (1948).

Now this case dealt with racially restrictive covenants on the sale of real estate property so it's different....
Shelley is unique. I am not aware of the core "state action" holding of Shellley ever being applied to block enforcement of a bilateral contract.

Some things to note about Shelley that would make it inapplicable to a case involving the enforcement by a landlord of a clause in a lease:
  1. The Shelleys were an African-American family who, in 1945, had bought a home in a particular subdivision. The subdivision dated back to 1911, at which time the owners of the individual parcels all agreed that no parcel within the subdivision would be occupied by non-Whites. This agreement was recorded. This is an example of a "restrictive covenant running with the land."

  2. The seller of the property was not a party to the suit. He had sold the property to the Shelleys, and, as far as we know, completely happy with the deal.

  3. A lawsuit was brought in state court by other, neighboring, property owners to keep the Shelleys from moving into the neighborhood. The state court issued the requested injunction, and the Shelleys sued in federal court to block enforcement of the injunction.

  4. Note that the Shelleys were not being sued in state court on the basis of anything they agreed to. The underlying agreement being relied upon by the state court plaintiffs was entered into among past owners of the property. We don't know if any the Shelley state court plaintiffs were even signatories to that underlying agreement, nor do we know if the person selling the property to the Shelleys was a signatory.

  5. But in any case, the underlying lawsuit against the Shelleys was not based on any contract the Shelleys had entered into or any promises made by the Shelleys to any of the state court plaintiffs. There was, as we say, no privity of contract.
I've not seen anything like the core theory of Shelley being applied in any case not involving a restrictive covenant running with the land.

In a breach of lease case, the landlord would be seeking enforcement of an agreement running directly in his favor voluntarily made by the person he is seeking the enforcement against. That is a very different situation.

Originally Posted by vranasaurus
...A court order for specific performance or injunction...
A landlord's remedy for a breach of a lease is eviction not specific performance.
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