A state actor is an entity engaged in public conduct that is prohibited from violating the Fourteenth Amendment and, by incorporation, the Bill of Rights. Private actors are generally not state actors, though a substantial nexus with governmental entities can convert a private association into a state actor.
An example of a private association considered to be a state actor is a private association of public schools. The Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit have held that this type of private association is a state actor:
- At the outset, we agree with the district court and conclude that OSSAA is subject to the Fourteenth Amendment because it is a state actor. See Brentwood Acad. v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Athletic Assoc., 531 U.S. 288, 298-99, 121 S. Ct. 924, 148 L. Ed. 2d 807 (2001). OSSAA's conduct constitutes state action because of the "persuasive entwinement of public institutions and public officials in its composition and workings." Id. at 298. OSSAA members are 98 percent public schools, which is a larger percentage than that in Brentwood Academy. See 531 U.S. at 298-99 (concluding that the athletic association was a state actor where 84 percent of its members were public schools). All fourteen of OSSAA's current directors are public school employees, and Oklahoma has authorized OSSAA to determine athletic eligibility and hold play-off games. See Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 8-103.2. OSSAA is subject to the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Christian Heritage Acad. v. Okla. Secondary Sch. Activities Ass'n, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 8186, *15 (10th Cir. Apr. 9, 2007).