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Businesses should have the right to refuse service.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/25/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,458 times Debate No: 76906
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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Should they have the right to refuse service taken away?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly prohibits restaurants from refusing service to patrons on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. In addition, most courts don’t allow restaurants to refuse service to patrons based on extremely arbitrary conditions. For example, a person likely can’t be refused service due to having a lazy eye. - See more at:

Civil Rights Act of 1964


The prohibition against the right to refuse service was upheld by the US Supreme Court in the Ollie's Barbeque Case due to the fact that the federal government could pass laws regulating interstate commerce and Ollies Barbeque (was at that time - it is closer now) 11 blocks from an interstate highway. This was a prohibition against refusing service based on race, national origin, etc. The law as it has existed for decades had no impact on anyone's religious beliefs.

I support the law as it has existed in that a business does not have the right to refuse service for the aforementioned reasons. However, this is not an issue with only two sides (for/against). I have a very different opinion when it comes to sexual orientation. First, let's look at the often quoted scenario that we have seen recently: Should a baker be able to refuse to cater a gay wedding based on religious grounds. My answer, in this case, is YES! In this country, we have first amendment guaranteed freedom of religion and a person should never be required to act against their religious beliefs. For many Christians, the ban on homosexuality is a core belief as it was part of the law of Moses from the Old Testament. John Stuart (whom I usually agree with) says, "does the same baker refuse to cater weddings of people who have been divorced?" Well, it is impossible to know, without in-depth checks, whether someone has been divorced or not and more so, the rules against divorce are much "grayer." The hypothetical baker will have no doubt that they are at a gay wedding if they attend said wedding. Thus, in this hypothetical, I am for the right to refuse service.

Now, let's look at another gay rights issue where I would take the other side. A restaurant should not have the right to ban someone that they know is gay. Yet, they should have the right to refuse service for "public displays of affection." Thus, gays and straights would be treated equally in this situation. Now, without public displays of affection, how would anyone know if the person is gay? Or, let's look at another example, simply wearing a shirt that says "proud to be Gay" should not be a reason to refuse service as people have first amendment rights. On the other hand, disturbing everyone else in the restaurant by screaming about how proud someone is to be gay would be grounds for refusal of service.

The bright-line tests between right to refuse service and prohibition against refusal should be 2 part:

1. Clear violation of a person's religious freedom should allow for refusal of service, however, if there is no violation of religious freedom, we should look at part 2

2. Are other customers being "reasonably" disturbed by the patron who is being refused service?

I strongly dislike the attempts by the media, both right and left, to try to simplify very complex issues and consequently ignore the rights of some people at the expense of others. Being able to refuse service in a restaurant or another business is one of the most complex of issues and there is no simple solution that would also be a fair solution...
Debate Round No. 1


I want to solidify the question and then answer it.

Should a bussiness have a right to refuse service. This is a yes or no question. Not sometimes or maybe. Should the government be allowed to force businesses to accept anyone from using the business or allow the businesss to choose who their customers are.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly prohibits restaurants from refusing service to patrons on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. In addition, most courts don’t allow restaurants to refuse service to patrons based on extremely arbitrary conditions. For example, a person likely can’t be refused service due to having a lazy eye. - See more at:
I strongly Believe that All businesses should be allowed to refuse service from anyone, anytime, anywhere. Just because they have a right does not neccacrly mean they will use it. as refusing service is a large risk at making profits. As we all know one bad customer experience spreads faster than 10 good experiences.

However businesses have a right to succeed or fail by their own choosing. If you create a "Racist Redneck Bar" You can choose to only allow rights. Thats your choice, and depending on the location you may or may not be successful. But its a choice that business makes.

A business has every right to choose who they cater to such as the baker question. The misleading arguement is that how come you refuse gays but might serve an adulterer or a divorsed? Who cares? Its not our place to tell that baker right and wrong. They are not hurting anyone, for each baker who chooses to not serve, there will be 5 more waiting to make that cake for them.

Ultiamtely what this comes down to is America does not like it when peoples feelings are hurt. They take away ones rights due to feelings, not because its the right or wrong thing, but because someone is sad. It is ridiculous in thisday and age we still have to argue over our rights to do as we please.

This slipperly slope of giving up rights to make people feel better is only going to get worse before it improves. and Implore all of you to agree, we have the right to refuse server, and we also have the right to go somewhere else.

Civil Rights Act of 1964


I apologize for the delay in responding.

There are no yes/no questions. Trying to solve complex issues with simple solutions is one of our nation's greatest problems. Even with cross-examination in Court, witnesses are allowed re-direct to explain their "yes/no" answers.

Businesses should only have the right to refuse service when it is reasonable considering the behavior of the person being refused service. For example, if a patron at a restaurant decided to urinate on the tables, I believe we could all agree that it is reasonable for the owner to refuse service to said patron.

Your argument that business owners should be allowed to refuse service because there will always be five other businesses that will take the potential patron's business is severely flawed. History proves this not to be the case. Were their five other businesses willing to take African-American customers during the Jim Crow days in the South? No, there were not. The reason is that business owners just as others in society follow a "herd" mentality. This "herd" method of reasoning stems from a business seeing another business following a practice and fearing it will fall behind that business if it does not emulate the practice. This "fear" of falling behind is the reason we have market bubbles. Intelligent investors such as Warren Buffett have become very wealthy by playing the contrarian position to the "crowd's" irrational fears as well as their irrational exuberance.

Since businesses do not behave rationally in the "short run" and people's rights are infringed in the "short run," we must have laws to regulate businesses. Failing to have regulatory laws would be like a football game where there is no "out of bounds." Imagine the game where the receiver could run up into the stands to catch a ball and then go back into the field of play to score a touchdown! The team on offense would love these rules. The defense would not be so enthusiastic. The patrons of the game probably would not care for being run over by football players either. The point is, regulations are an absolute necessity within a free market economy, otherwise, you will have "too big to fail" banks crashing our economy! I will note that sometimes, such banks will even use bailout money provided by the government, to lobby the government against regulating said banks, so that these banks can continue to perform foolish acts without having to be bothered by the government!

My point is, the owner should have the right to refuse when it is reasonable. "Reasonable" is what society deems as reasonable. There is no "slippery slope" in having such a common sense solution. The greatest thing to fear about "slippery slopes" is fear of "slippery slopes" themselves. No one ever said governing and regulating a free enterprise democracy would be easy.
Debate Round No. 2


I will keep final argument short:

You reference history as an arguement that if businesses discriminate it will multiply and cause harm. However I will refute that we live in a fast pased world of social technology where businesses and people are quickly on the move to find money. We live in a country where gay marriage is now legal, any sort of discrimination is shunned and blasted on the internet rapidly. Look how fast the reaction was for the confedorate flag?

Businesses should be allowed to choose their customers, it is their choice that will likely hurt them more than anything else,but that indidual that built that business from the grond up has every right to choose their customeres and face the consequeneces.

taking away that right is morally wrong. As we are a country of freedom to allow one to make choices. and that includes how to run a business they create.


The "fast-paced world that we currently live in" argument is similar to the argument I heard at the beginning of the "Great Recession." In 2008, there was a person on CNBC that was trying to explain that the world was so fast paced at that time that a recession would only take a few days. I thought at the time, it sure would be nice if that fellow were right, but the length of the lines I was seeing at the CoinStar machines indicated that he was incorrect.

The confederate flag has taken 150 years to be considered a real issue. Racism is still a huge problem in our nation. Segregation is still a huge problem in the South (I am a white Southerner). As an aside to our debate, I will say that the memory of the Old South should be pushed into the same dusty corner of a museum as Nazi Germany. Erin Burnett (on CNN) questioned if we were going too far with the confederate flag. I say we have not gone far enough until every symbol of that treasonous and racist rebellion is removed from any government installation anywhere. This most certainly includes the naming of some of our American military bases after confederate generals!

Therefore, on some issues, we have seen short sprints (the confederate flag), but that is simply another example of herd mentality. While herd mentality is sometimes good, there is always a problem when people are not thinking their positions through. There is no place for symbols of the old confederacy within our government. On the other hand, issues such as gay marriage (the Supreme Court decided correctly) are sometimes handled incorrectly. While it is difficult to admit being aligned with a Republican on any issue, I do certainly hope that Indiana Governor Mike Pence ensured the rights of religious freedom through making sure that a person would be able to refuse to work a "gay wedding" if it were against the person"s religious views. It is important that everyone have his or her rights protected.

I often say that "compassion without logic often leads to folly, but logic with no compassion often leads to pure evil; I would prefer to err on the side of compassion." The point is, we should consider our actions and positions closely to make sure everyone's rights are being protected. If we are not sure, it is best to take the most compassionate approach. This careful consideration at every point is the best way to avoid "slippery slopes," not over-simplified rules.

Now, to the part about the rights of the people who "build the business from the ground up having every right to say who they serve," these people are not actually building their business from the ground up. They build their businesses on a foundation that is the infrastructure that has been provided by the American taxpayer. In the example of a restaurant (as Ollie"s Barbeque mentioned in the first round), the restaurant uses the American interstate highway system to have food delivered. Customers get to the restaurant on streets built by the government. Other people have helped the business owner. An example of another helper for the business owner would be a loan officer at a federally insured bank. Everything that anyone builds within a business is built upon the infrastructure provided by both the American government and American society. It is sadly arrogant for a person to boast as if they did "everything" themselves. I have built a successful business myself and the work was extremely hard and the hours were very long, but I realize that I had a lot of help from others and I am humbly grateful for their help.

In my last post, I said that "reasonable" is determined by what society says is "reasonable." I will amend that now; to say "reasonable" is what society says is "reasonable" unless modified by the Courts. The independence of the Courts from the aforementioned "herd mentality" often increases a Courts chances of being correct. The Courts are not always correct. Therefore, how do we ensure that our government always gets things right, within our system of checks and balances? We debate the issues within public forums such as this in hopes of building the popular consensus that can push policy in the right direction. Only through such multi-sided arguments can a well thought out consensus be reached.

I have enjoyed the debate. Can we add another round????
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by TGambit 2 years ago
businesses see needs and then create a product, logically there will always be businesses to server all sorts of people. It is a very very small percentage of business that limit who they serve based on ethnicity. Even if a larger amount decided a ban, then there would be a large group of new businesses stepping up the meet the need to server them.
Posted by CookieMonster9 2 years ago
Well then if everyone chose to not serve blacks then we would have the problem we started off with. This is a business vs people argument here.
Posted by purpleduck 2 years ago
Actually, they do. Private businesses can choose to serve whoever they want, but it doesn't mean it will necessarily be good for business. Most businesses will give services to everyone because discrimination comes with a bad reputation, but if that is not an issue, you can choose to serve whomever you want. In fact there are several restaurants in the deep South that will not serve blacks.
Posted by Preston 2 years ago
They still have the right... they just cant say "your black, im not serving you!"
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