Friday, December 28, 2012

California Supreme Court rules that content-based speech discrimination is permitted.

This ruling seems to reverse established First Amendment precedent by ruling that the California legislature can discriminate against speech it doesn't like by favoring speakers it does like:

Signature gatherers and protesters may be ejected from privately owned walkways outside a store, but labor unions may picket there peacefully, the California Supreme Court decided Thursday.
 The state high court unanimously agreed that private walkways in front of stores, unlike public areas in shopping malls, are not open forums accessible to anyone who wants to assemble to express a view. But the justices split, 6 to 1, in upholding two state laws that prevent courts from issuing injunctions against peaceful labor pickets on private property.
 The laws protecting labor pickets are justified "by the state's interest in promoting collective bargaining to resolve labor disputes," Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote for the court
California "may single out labor-related speech for particular protection or regulation" as an exercise in the economic regulation of labor relations, Kennard wrote.
Lawyers said the ruling would give stores greater freedom to remove demonstrators near their entrances but also would embolden labor unions to post pickets at doorways.
The ruling stemmed from a dispute over pickets at a Ralphs grocery store in Sacramento. Union members stood by the store entrance passing out leaflets to protest the fact that employees were not unionized.
The store had a policy of preventing demonstrators from coming within 20 feet of the entrance and asked a court to evict the pickets as trespassers.
A trial judge refused, but an appeals court struck down the two state picket protections. The appellate court said the laws unconstitutionally favored communications by labor over other kinds of speech.
That would normally be true, but in California it seems that unions rule.

California - the Michigan of the future.

1 comment:

Gail Finke said...

"Public areas inside shopping malls"??? Shopping malls are NOT public spaces, though they resemble them. They are privately owned spaces, and people in them do not have the same free speech rights as they do in public places. Or has California decided differently?

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