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Although ejusdem generis is an old and accepted rule of statutory construction, it does not compel a court to accord words and phrases embodied in the statute a definition or interpretation different from their common and ordinary meaning; nor to interpret the statute in such a narrow fashion as to defeat what the court conceives to be its obvious and dominating general purpose.
Fun Fair Park, incorporated under Louisiana law as Amusement Enterprises, Inc., is a privately owned amusement park which ostensibly offers its facilities to the general public. The amusement park is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, approximately 150 yards from Airline Highway, which runs between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana. The park covers about two and three-quarters acres of land in a business and residential area. Fun Fair operates mechanical rides for children, an ice skating rink open during the winter months as well as an ice skate rental service, and a small concession stand from which refreshments may be purchased. Fun Fair's advertisements over radio and television solicit the business of the public generally with no expressed restriction or reservation as to race or interstate travel. However, the manager stated in his deposition that the facilities are only open to those of the public who are white, properly attired and who properly conduct themselves. The manager further stated that it is the policy of Fun Fair to exclude Negroes and that no change in policy is contemplated.
Mrs. Miller, in response to Fun Fair's advertisement that "Everybody come," took her two children, Daniel age 12 and Denise age 9, to the park to ice skate. At the skate rental counter she asked for skates for Denise, who has a fair or light complexion, and the attendant thinking the little girl was white, promptly handed Mrs. Miller a pair of skates. Daniel, dark-complexioned, who had been sent back to the Miller car for heavy socks, then joined his mother and sister. The rented skates were soon discovered to be too small and Mrs. Miller returned to the rental stand and placed the skates on the counter. In the meantime the attendant had discovered that the child was Negro and he had left the skate room to inform the manager of the situation. As the manager approached the counter, Mrs. Miller stated to him that the skates did not fit. The manager snatched the skates off the counter and announced to Mrs. Miller that Fun Fair did not "serve colored". The people standing in line waiting to rent skates began to giggle, and Denise, frightened and disappointed at not being allowed to skate, started crying. As Denise stood there crying others in line appeared to be amused. Mrs. Miller and her children quickly left the park. Mrs. Miller, individually and on behalf of her minor children, Denise and Daniel Miller (appellants), brought this action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana pursuant to Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, §§ 201(b) (3) and (c) (3), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000a(b) (3) and (c) (3), to enjoin Amusement Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Fun Fair Park (Fun Fair) from denying Negroes access to its amusement park. The district court ruled in favor of the defendant. The district court held that Fun Fair is not a place of entertainment as described in § 201(b) (3) and does not affect commerce as that term is specifically defined in § 201(c) (3) of the Act.
Is Fun Fair Park an establishment covered by §§ 201(b) (3) and (c) (3) of the Civil Rights Act?
The court disagrees with those concepts forwarded by the Government which would prefer, or those which would demand, that the Civil Rights Act be narrowly construed, i.e. the establishments referred to in § 201(b) (3) must be places of entertainment which present exhibitions for spectators and that such exhibitions must move in interstate commerce. However, while not necessary to its decision, the court finds that Fun Fair is covered by the literal terms of the Act. Although it may be that the types of exhibition establishments listed in § 201(b) (3) are those which most commonly come to mind, no one would dispute the proposition that such list is not complete or exhaustive. Therefore, any establishment which presents a performance for the amusement or interest of a viewing public would be included. In our view Fun Fair is such an establishment. The amusement park presents a performance of small children riding on various mechanical "kiddie" rides plus a performance of ice skating. It is obvious that many of the people who assemble at the park come there to be entertained by watching others, particularly their own children, participate in the activities available. In fact Mrs. Miller's presence at the park was to see her children perform on ice. While the record does not explicitly and clearly show this to be a fact, aside from Mrs. Miller's statement, Judges may take judicial knowledge of the common ordinary fact that human beings are "people watchers" and derive much enjoyment from this pastime. Moreover, the court cannot ignore the logical conclusion that a number of the patron-performers of the Fun Fair amusement park, an essential part of Fun Fair's exhibition, move in commerce. Again, while the record does not categorically establish where the patron-performers have originated and where they will or might travel next for other performances of a like nature, emphasis is given on the fact that the record does show that the park is located on a major highway and does not geographically restrict its radio and television advertisements. A reading, study and careful consideration of the Civil Rights Act and its legislative history compels the court to conclude that the general intent and overriding purpose of the act was to end discrimination in certain facilities open to the general public. In view of the "inconclusive nature" of the legislative history and in light of the overriding purpose of the Act, Fun Fair Park is a place of public accommodation under §§ 201(b) (3) and (c) (3) of the Civil Rights Act.
The court does not read §§ 201(b) (3) and (c) (3) with narrowed eye but with an open mind attuned to the clear and strong purpose of the Act, namely, to secure for all citizens the full enjoyment of facilities described in the Act which are open to the general public. That Title II of the Civil Rights Act is to be liberally construed and broadly read is a doctrine that is well established. Though the Act must be given liberal interpretation, the Act was not designed to cover all establishments. "Congress * * * exclude[d] some establishments from the Act either for reasons of policy or because it believed its powers to regulate and protect interstate commerce did not extend so far." However, in view of the facts and circumstances present in the instant case the court is unable to conclude that recreational facilities such as those operated by Fun Fair are one of the excluded establishments. The phrase "place of entertainment" as used in § 201(b) (3) includes both establishments which present shows, performances and exhibitions to a passive audience and those establishments which provide recreational or other activities for the amusement or enjoyment of its patrons. In Borough of Hanover v. Criswell, the Pennsylvania court dealt with the principle of ejusdem generis and reached a conclusion similar to the one reached here. Also, Supreme Court decisions clearly show that the rule of ejusdem generis does not prevail when the result of its use would be contrary to the obvious purpose of the statute in question. Further, had Congress meant to confine § 201(b) (3) to only those establishments dealing in exhibitions it would have concluded such section with the phrase "and other places of exhibition" rather than ending the section with the language "or other place of exhibition or entertainment."