Citation. 407 U.S. 551, 92 S. Ct. 2219, 33 L. Ed. 2d 131, 1972 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.
The Respondent, Tanner (Respondent) and five others, distributed flyers to mall shoppers inviting them to a meeting protesting the Vietnam War and the draft.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution (Constitution) limit state action, not private property owners. Private property is not considered public property just because the public is invited to use the property for its intended purpose.
The Petitioner, Lloyd Corp., Ltd. (Plaintiff), owns a sixty commercial tenant shopping mall including all land and buildings on a fifty acre lot. Public streets and sidewalks bound the mall on each side. For the eight years prior to this incident, Petitioner instituted and upheld a policy strictly forbidding the distribution of flyers (handbills) on the mall premises. On November 14, 1968, Respondent and 5 others entered the mall and began distributing invitations to mall shoppers. This was done in a quiet and orderly fashion. However, one customer complained. As a result, mall security told the Respondents that they were trespassing and would be arrested unless they left the premises. Respondents quietly left the premises and began distributing their handbills from the public sidewalks and streets surrounding the mall.
Can a privately owned shopping mall prohibit the distribution of flyers and restrict an individual’s freedom of speech rights when the nature of the handouts is unrelated to the mall’s operations?
Logan Valley is factually distinct from the instant case. The picketing in Logan Valley involved was “directly related in its purpose to the use to which the shopping center property was being put.”
It is an infringement of property rights to force a private actor to yield to an individual’s First Amendment constitutional rights when “alternative avenues of communication exist.”
A person may exercise freedom of speech rights against another private entity without restriction or interference. However, a private entity is not required to provide a forum for such an exercise.