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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Rotary Club
Rotary Int.
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for intervenor State of California)
Facts of the Case 

When the Duarte chapter of Rotary International violated club policy by admitting three women into its active membership its charter was revoked and it was expelled. The California Court of Appeals, however, in reversing a lower court decision, found that Rotary International's action violated a California civil rights act prohibiting sexual discrimination.


Did a law which required California Rotary Clubs to admit women members violate Rotary International's First Amendment rights of association?

Decision: 7 votes for Rotary Club, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Association

No. Considering the size, purpose, selectivity, and exclusivity of Rotary's membership, the Court found that the relationship among the club's members was not of the intimate or private variety which warrants First Amendment protection. Writing for the unanimous Court, Justice Powell argued that because many of Rotary's activities (including their meetings) are conducted in the presence of strangers, and because women members would not prevent the club from carrying out its purposes, there was no violation of associational rights. Furthermore, even if there were a slight encroachment on the rights of Rotarians to associate, that minimal infringement would be justified since it "serves the State's compelling interest" in ending sexual discrimination.

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ROTARY INT. v. ROTARY CLUB. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 17 January 2015. <>.
ROTARY INT. v. ROTARY CLUB, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited January 17, 2015).
"ROTARY INT. v. ROTARY CLUB," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed January 17, 2015,