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California Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality Of LAX Solicitation Regulations Challenged By Hare Krishnas

In International Society for Krishna v. City of Los Angeles the California Supreme Court ruled that the solicitation regulations at the Los Angeles International Airport (“LAX”) are valid as reasonable time, place and manner restrictions under state law. (2010 WL 1071387 (Cal.)) While this ruling will provide additional authority to support solicitation regulations, municipalities should be aware of the relatively narrow contours of the ruling.

First, the California Supreme Court made much of the fact that the solicitation regulations only prohibit the immediate receipt of funds. Without this limitation it is questionable whether the Court would have found the regulations Constitutional. Second, the California Supreme Court noted that LAX is a busy forum with specific traffic flow concerns which the regulations are designed to address. Forums without such concerns will be unlikely to find authority to support solicitation regulations from this case. Finally, it should be noted that the California Supreme Court did not answer the question the Ninth Circuit originally asked of it, namely whether LAX is a public forum under the California Constitution. Instead, the California Supreme Court side-stepped the tricky forum analysis question and held that whether or not LAX is a public forum the regulations are Constitutional. In concurring opinions, however, three Justices indicated that they would find that LAX is not a public forum for free speech purposes under the California Constitution while only one Justice indicated that he would find that the prescreening public areas of LAX are public forums.

For more information on International Society for Krishna v. City of Los Angeles, or other First Amendment issues impacting public agencies, contact Meg Rosequist or Deborah Fox at 800.464.3559.