Hornsby v. Allen

326 F.2d 605 (5th Cir. 1964)


P is an unsuccessful applicant for a license to operate a retail liquor store in Atlanta, Georgia. P brought this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1343 to redress an alleged deprivation of civil rights and under 28 U.S.C. § 2201 to obtain a declaration of her rights. Ds are the Mayor, the City Clerk, and the Aldermen of Atlanta. P alleges that although she met all the requirements and qualifications as to the moral character of the applicant and the proposed location of the store, prescribed for the holder of a retail liquor dealer's license, her application was denied 'without a reason therefor.' P claims that Ds' actions are 'arbitrary, unreasonable, unjust, capricious, discriminatory' and in contravention of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. P claims there is a system of ward courtesy for the issuance of liquor licenses where only upon the approval of one or both of the aldermen of the ward would a license be granted. P claimed that this practice constitutes a violation of the 14th Amendment. Ds moved to dismiss. Ds claimed that more applications were submitted than it could grant. They claimed the complaint only concerned a political question that was not covered by the due process provisions of the 14th Amendment, since dealing solely with motives of a legislative body in voting upon legislation, and which did not draw into question the equal protection clause, since there was no allegation of discrimination. The court agreed holding that the issuance of a liquor license was within the discretion of the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen and concluded that a federal court had no jurisdiction to entertain an attack on that process. Ds' decision was legislative rather than adjudicative. P appealed.