INTERN. SOC. FOR KRISHNA, ETC. v. Barber, No. 77 CV 328.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
Writing for the CourtBradley J. Carr, Syracuse, N. Y., for defendant Garlick
Citation506 F. Supp. 147
Decision Date25 August 1980
Docket NumberNo. 77 CV 328.
PartiesINTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, INC., on Behalf of Themselves and All International Society for Krishna Consciousness Members, and Alan Attias, a/k/a Aja Dasa, and Kenneth L. Solomon, a/k/a Kesihanta, Plaintiffs, v. J. Roger BARBER, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets of the State of New York, and Thomas G. Young, Director of the New York State Industrial Exhibit Authority, and James G. Garlick, Acting Director of the New York State Industrial Exhibit Authority, Defendants.

506 F. Supp. 147

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, INC., on Behalf of Themselves and All International Society for Krishna Consciousness Members, and Alan Attias, a/k/a Aja Dasa, and Kenneth L. Solomon, a/k/a Kesihanta, Plaintiffs,
v.
J. Roger BARBER, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets of the State of New York, and Thomas G. Young, Director of the New York State Industrial Exhibit Authority, and James G. Garlick, Acting Director of the New York State Industrial Exhibit Authority, Defendants.

No. 77 CV 328.

United States District Court, N. D. New York.

August 25, 1980.


506 F. Supp. 148

Faith A. Seidenberg and Bonnie Strunk, Seidenberg & Strunk, Syracuse, N. Y., of counsel; Larry J. Roberts, Robert C. Moest, Barry A. Fisher Law Offices, Los Angeles, Ca., on the briefs.

Robert Abrams, Atty. Gen. of the State of N. Y., New York City, for defendants Barber and Young; Thomas J. Maroney, Asst. Atty. Gen. in Charge, Syracuse, N. Y., George M. Levy, Asst. Atty. Gen., Syracuse, N. Y., of counsel.

Bradley J. Carr, Syracuse, N. Y., for defendant Garlick.

MEMORANDUM — DECISION AND ORDER

MUNSON, Chief Judge.

I.

The First Amendment is dedicated to the proposition that a citizen's right to form, hold, or express opinions or beliefs is entitled to an accommodation from the government whenever possible. This principle embodies certain fundamental social decisions about the type of society that would be created as a result. One such decision concerns our society's attitude towards its discordant voices. Every society seeks, to varying degrees, to manage the forces of social unrest within its borders. The First Amendment envisions a system by which social order can be achieved by channeling this unrest through self-expression, rather than by trying to suppress individuals who espouse ideas that are unpalatable to the majority of the citizenry.

506 F. Supp. 149

As a practical corollary, however, there will be times when this accommodation will favor society's interest in protecting itself as a whole. For instance, if spoken in a particular setting or at certain times, the message of a speech may be so dangerous that it ought to be regulated or even prohibited for the good of all citizens. Society cannot tolerate a person yelling "fire" in a crowded theater when there is no fire. At the same time, there will be occasions where the manner in which speech is presented may require regulation for the greater good of society. Thus, a prohibitory rule is appropriate to guard against the con man who would have the unwary believe that he solicits for the benefit of both widow and orphan when, in reality, he desires only to improve his own treasury.

These examples enjoy the benefit of being clear cut. In the typical situation, however, it is harder to determine where the rights of one group should end and where the rights of another should begin. Frequently, courts are required to evaluate whether, in balancing the rights of individuals, governmental entities have reached a constitutionally permissible result. In the course of exercising this responsibility in the past, courts have often strained to reach judgments, have arrived at opposite conclusions, and have covered their tracks, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Jackson, with the "pronouncement of general propositions with which there is no disagreement."1

In the view of one noted legal commentator,2 though clearly formulated rules in this area are essential, the courts' difficulties in the First Amendment arena are understandable. Says he, our system of free expression contemplates that "the members of society must be willing to sacrifice individual and short-term advantage for social and long-range goals." Continuing on, he states: "yet, because this system recognizes the right of the citizen to disagree with, arouse, antagonize, and shock his fellow citizens and the government, such an arrangement of human affairs is hardly likely to be automatically achieved."3

While the Court agrees with the latter proposition, it cannot accept the former as being correct. In the same opinion, partially quoted from above, Justice Jackson said: "civil liberties had their origin and must find their ultimate guaranty in the faith of the people."4 There is a "good faith" limit to the number of times that the majority of society can be asked to forsake their liberties in favor of some small group which claims that their beliefs or opinions compel this result. Hence, exceptions such as these must be very narrowly drawn, and should reflect our common sense and fundamental values. In the past, all too often judgments in this field have not; and they have substituted a certain transcendental consciousness of their own for practical solutions.

Such a judicial legacy will not only fall of its own weight, it will make it more difficult for communities to find practical solutions to constitutional problems. The ultimate danger in this course is clear. Soon, a society's long-range social goals will become casualties of short-sighted convenience, and the people will lose faith in the meaning of their liberties. Moreover, the end will have been hastened by a willingness of courts to replace common sense and values with outmoded legal theories, whose combined effect is to grant selected minorities the license to write their own code of conduct at the expense of the rights of others. While questions of free expression or religion commonly require the courts to seek practical solutions, we need not reach judgments as did Plato's men, who were chained in a cave and only able to see their shadows. There may come a time when a minority group seeks constitutional favoritism that in common sense terms is neither justified,

506 F. Supp. 150
nor is in the interests of society as a whole. At such times, this Court is duty bound to reject such a request. By way of concluding these remarks, again the words of Justice Jackson
The First Amendment grew out of an experience which taught that society cannot trust the conscience of a majority to keep its religious zeal within the limits that a free society can tolerate. I do not think it any more intended to leave the conscience of a minority to fix its limits. Civil government cannot let any group ride rough-shod over others simply because their "consciences" tell them to do so.5

This action began with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (hereinafter referred to as Krishnas) and one of its members, Alan Attias, filed a complaint in the Northern District of New York on August 29, 1977, the day before the 1977 New York State Fair was to begin. The Krishnas are a duly organized not-for-profit corporation, incorporated under the laws of the State of New York, with their main branch located in New York City, and with various temples located throughout the United States and the world. As originally joined, the defendants in this action were Hugh L. Carey, sued individually and as Governor of the State of New York; J. Roger Barber, sued individually and as Director of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets; and Thomas G. Young, sued individually and as Director of the New York State Fair.

The gravamen of the plaintiffs' 1977 complaint was that the New York State Fair's booth regulation prohibited the Krishnas from freely circulating at the Fairgrounds, and practicing a Krishna ritual known as Sankirtan. According to Krishna custom, Sankirtan requires that a devotee proselytize the Krishna religion and solicit monies for its support. The booth restriction, said plaintiffs, violated the Krishnas' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of free speech, free exercise of religion and peaceable assembly. In their prayer for relief, the Krishnas sought a temporary restraining order preventing defendants from refusing the Krishnas unlimited access to the Fairgrounds. This order was subsequently granted by the Honorable Edmund Port, Senior Judge of this District, on August 30, 1977. Prior to the filing of the complaint, the New York State Fair had not yet formally reduced its booth regulations to writing. However, such regulations were drawn up and printed after this suit was commenced. It should also be noted that the State Fair is a cooperative enterprise between two public agencies. One is the Division of the State Fair of the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the other is the New York State Industrial Exhibit Authority. Both agencies are involved in this action because each has rule-making authority which plaintiffs contest.

Although the 1977 complaint was never dismissed, one day before the 1978 New York State Fair was scheduled to begin, the Krishnas and Krishna devotee Nicholas D'Angelo filed a second complaint, seeking another temporary restraining order to enjoin the defendants from enforcing the booth requirement at the 1978 State Fair. This Court heard oral argument on August 28, 1978, and granted plaintiffs' relief effective through September 1, 1978, which allowed plaintiffs access to the Fairgrounds subject to some twenty-one conditions which were standard stipulations that plaintiffs propose to courts and various defendants in this type of litigation around the country. In general, the restrictions relate to the type of activity in which devotees engage; registration and liaison procedures; fees and the manner and place of the activity. The order was subsequently extended for the duration of the Fair, and it was partially modified to exclude the Krishnas from the building known as the Cow Barn.

On January 12, 1979, defendants filed their answer to the 1977 complaint. Thereafter, by notice of motion dated July 20,

506 F. Supp. 151
1979, plaintiffs moved for summary judgment, and oral argument was heard on July 30, 1979. The Court eventually denied the motion, believing that a full trial of the issue was necessary. On August 28, 1979, Judge...

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7 practice notes
  • Nakatomi Inv., Inc. v. City of Schenectady, No. 96-CV-1226.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • January 7, 1997
    ...In these cases, one interest must give way to the other. See, e.g., International Soc'y for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Barber, 506 F.Supp. 147, 148-49 (N.D.N.Y.1980), rev'd on other grounds, 650 F.2d 430 (2d Cir.1981). The instant case presents the Court with the difficult task of balan......
  • Heffron v. International Society For Krishna Consciousness, Inc, No. 80-795
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 1981
    ...the fairgrounds except from a booth rented from the Society. 9. Compare International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Barber, 506 F.Supp. 147 (NDNY, 1980), rev'd, 650 F.2d 430 (CA2 1981) (invalidating "booth" rule); Edwards v. Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society, Inc., 6......
  • Loper v. New York City Police Dept., No. 90 Civ. 7546 (RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 30, 1992
    ...hand, can be a much more aggressive and intrusive practice. See generally International Soc'y for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Barber, 506 F.Supp. 147, 152-63 (N.D.N.Y.1980), rev'd on other grounds, 650 F.2d 430 (2d Cir.1981). Therefore, the only true difference between the two is the eve......
  • International Soc. for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Barber, No. 1046
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • June 3, 1981
    ...and the touching of members of the public and patrons without consent. Judge Munson dismissed the ISKCON complaint on August 25, 1980, 506 F.Supp. 147 (N.D.N.Y.1980). Because the tenets and practices of Krishna Consciousness had not previously been examined by a court of law, 8 Judge Munson......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Nakatomi Inv., Inc. v. City of Schenectady, No. 96-CV-1226.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • January 7, 1997
    ...In these cases, one interest must give way to the other. See, e.g., International Soc'y for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Barber, 506 F.Supp. 147, 148-49 (N.D.N.Y.1980), rev'd on other grounds, 650 F.2d 430 (2d Cir.1981). The instant case presents the Court with the difficult task of balan......
  • Heffron v. International Society For Krishna Consciousness, Inc, No. 80-795
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 1981
    ...the fairgrounds except from a booth rented from the Society. 9. Compare International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Barber, 506 F.Supp. 147 (NDNY, 1980), rev'd, 650 F.2d 430 (CA2 1981) (invalidating "booth" rule); Edwards v. Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society, Inc., 6......
  • Loper v. New York City Police Dept., No. 90 Civ. 7546 (RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 30, 1992
    ...hand, can be a much more aggressive and intrusive practice. See generally International Soc'y for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Barber, 506 F.Supp. 147, 152-63 (N.D.N.Y.1980), rev'd on other grounds, 650 F.2d 430 (2d Cir.1981). Therefore, the only true difference between the two is the eve......
  • International Soc. for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Barber, No. 1046
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • June 3, 1981
    ...and the touching of members of the public and patrons without consent. Judge Munson dismissed the ISKCON complaint on August 25, 1980, 506 F.Supp. 147 (N.D.N.Y.1980). Because the tenets and practices of Krishna Consciousness had not previously been examined by a court of law, 8 Judge Munson......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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