Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins

Decision Date09 June 1980
Docket NumberNo. 79-289,79-289
PartiesPRUNEYARD SHOPPING CENTER and Fred Sahadi, Appellants, v. Michael ROBINS et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court
Syllabus

Soon after appellees had begun soliciting in appellant privately owned shopping center's central courtyard for signatures from passersby for petitions in opposition to a United Nations resolution, a security guard informed appellees that they would have to leave because their activity violated shopping center regulations prohibiting any visitor or tenant from engaging in any publicly expressive activity that is not directly related to the center's commercial purposes. Appellees immediately left the premises and later filed suit in a California state court to enjoin the shopping center and its owner (also an appellant) from denying appellees access to the center for the purpose of circulating their petitions. The trial court held that appellees were not entitled under either the Federal or California Constitution to exercise their asserted rights on the shopping center property, and the California Court of Appeal affirmed. The California Supreme Court reversed, holding that the California Constitution protects speech and petitioning, reasonably exercised, in shopping centers even when the center is privately owned, and that such result does not infringe appellants' property rights protected by the Federal Constitution.

Held:

1. This case is properly before this Court as an appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1257(2). A state constitutional provision is a "statute" within the meaning of § 1257(2), and in deciding that the State Constitution gave appellees the right to solicit signatures on appellants' property, the California Supreme Court rejected appellants' claim that recognition of such a right violated their "right to exclude others," a fundamental component of their federally protected property rights. Pp. 79-80.

2. State constitutional provisions, as construed to permit individuals reasonably to exercise free speech and petition rights on the property of a privately owned shopping center to which the public is invited, do not violate the shopping center owner's property rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments or his free speech rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Pp. 80-88.

(a) The reasoning in Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551, 92 S.Ct. 2219, 33 L.Ed.2d 131—which held that the First Amendment does not prevent a private shopping center owner from prohibiting the distribution on center premises of handbills unrelated to the center's operations—does not ex proprio vigore limit a State's authority to exercise it police power or its sovereign right to adopt in its own constitution individual liberties more expansive than those conferred by the Federal Constitution. And a State, in the exercise of its police power, may adopt reasonable restrictions on private property so long as the restrictions do not amount to taking without just compensation or contravene any other federal constitutional provision. Pp. 80-81.

(b) The requirement that appellants permit appellees to exercise state-protected rights of free expression and petition on shopping center property does not amount to an unconstitutional infringement of appellants' property rights under the Taking Clause of the Fifth Amendment, appellants, having failed to demonstrate that the "right to exclude others" is so essential to the use or economic value of their property that the state-authorized limitation of it amounted to a "taking." Kaiser Aetna v. United States, 444 U.S. 164, 100 S.Ct. 383, 62 L.Ed.2d 332, distinguished. And there is no merit to appellants' argument that they have been denied property without due process of law, where they have failed to show that the due process test whereby the challenged law must not be unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious and the means selected must have a real and substantial relation to the objective to be obtained, is not satisfied by the State's asserted interest in promoting more expansive rights of free speech and petition than conferred by the Federal Constitution. Pp. 82-85.

(c) Nor have appellants' First Amendment rights been infringed by the California Supreme Court's decision. The shopping center by choice of its owner is not limited to the personal use of appellants, and the views expressed by members of the public in passing out pamphlets or seeking signatures for a petition thus will not likely be identified with those of the owner. Furthermore, no specific message is dictated by the State to be displayed on appellants' property, and appellants are free to publicly dissociate themselves from the views of the speakers or handbillers. Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705, 97 S.Ct. 1428, 51 L.Ed.2d 752; West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 63 S.Ct. 1178, 87 L.Ed. 1628; and Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241, 94 S.Ct. 2831, 41 L.Ed.2d 730, distinguished. Pp. 85-88.

23 Cal.3d 899, 153 Cal.Rptr. 854, 592 P.2d 341, affirmed.

Max L. Gillam, Jr., Los Angeles, Cal., for appellants.

Philip L. Hammer, San Jose, Cal., for appellees.

Elinor H. Stillman, Washington, D. C., for United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court.

Mr. Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

We postponed jurisdiction of this appeal from the Supreme Court of California to decide the important federal constitutional questions it presented. Those are whether state constitutional provisions, which permit individuals to exercise free speech and petition rights on the property of a privately owned shopping center to which the public is invited, violate the shopping center owner's property rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments or his free speech rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

I

Appellant PruneYard is a privately owned shopping center in the city of Campbell, Cal. It covers approximately 21 acres—5 devoted to parking and 16 occupied by walkways, plazas, sidewalks, and buildings that contain more than 65 specialty shops, 10 restaurants, and a movie theater. The PruneYard is open to the public for the purpose of encouraging the patronizing of its commercial establishments. It has a policy not to permit any visitor or tenant to engage in any publicly expressive activity, including the circulation of petitions, that is not directly related to its commercial purposes. This policy has been strictly enforced in a nondiscriminatory fashion. The PruneYard is owned by appellant Fred Sahadi.

Appellees are high school students who sought to solicit support for their opposition to a United Nations resolution against "Zionism." On a Saturday afternoon they set up a card table in a corner of PruneYard's central courtyard. They distributed pamphlets and asked passersby to sign petitions, which were to be sent to the President and Members of Congress. Their activity was peaceful and orderly and so far as the record indicates was not objected to by PruneYard's patrons.

Soon after appellees had begun soliciting signatures, a security guard informed them that they would have to leave because their activity violated PruneYard regulations. The guard suggested that they move to the public sidewalk at the PruneYard's perimeter. Appellees immediately left the premises and later filed this lawsuit in the California Superior Court of Santa Clara County. They sought to enjoin appellants from denying them access to the PruneYard for the purpose of circulating their petitions.

The Superior Court held that appellees were not entitled under either the Federal or California Constitution to exercise their asserted rights on the shopping center property. App. to Juris. Statement A-2. It concluded that there were "adequate, effective channels of communication for [appellees] other than soliciting on the private property of the [PruneYard]." Id. at A-3. The California Court of Appeal affirmed.

The California Supreme Court reversed, holding that the California Constitution protects "speech and petitioning, reasonably exercised, in shopping centers even when the centers are privately owned." 23 Cal.3d 899, 910, 153 Cal.Rptr. 854, 860, 592 P.2d 341, 347 (1979). It concluded that appellees were entitled to conduct their activity on PruneYard property. In rejecting appellants' contention that such a result infringed property rights protected by the Federal Constitution, the California Supreme Court observed:

" 'It bears repeated emphasis that we do not have under consideration the property or privacy rights of an individual homeowner or the proprietor of a modest retail establishment. As a result of advertising and the lure of a congenial environment, 25,000 persons are induced to congregate daily to take advantage of the numerous amenities offered by the [shopping center there]. A handful of additional orderly persons soliciting signatures and distributing handbills in connection therewith, under reasonable regulations adopted by defendant to assure that these activities do not interfere with normal business operations (see Diamond [v. Bland, 3 Cal.3d 653, 665, 91 Cal.Rptr. 501, 509, 477 P.2d 733, 741 (1970)]) would not markedly dilute defendant's property rights.' [Diamond v. Bland, 11 Cal.3d 331, 345, 113 Cal.Rptr. 468, 478, 521 P.2d 460, 470 (1974)] (dis. opn. of Mosk, J.).)" Id., at 910-911, 153 Cal.Rptr., at 860-861, 592 P.2d, at 347-348.

The California Supreme Court thus expressly overruled its earlier decision in Diamond v. Bland, 11 Cal.3d 331, 113 Cal.Rptr. 468, 521 P.2d 460 (Diamond II ), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 885, 95 S.Ct. 152, 42 L.Ed.2d 125 (1974), which had reached an opposite conclusion. 23 Cal.3d, at 910, 153 Cal.Rptr., at 860, 592 P.2d, at 347.1 Before this Court, appellants contend that their constitutionally established rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to exclude appellees from adverse use of appellants' private property cannot be denied by...

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