Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pastor Wins Free Speech Lawsuit Over Mall

Court rules in favor of California youth pastor who was arrested for witnessing his faith to a few accepting women -- the "mall rules" violated his freedom of speech.

-- From "Roseville galleria's rules deny free speech, state appeals court says" by Denny Walsh, Sacramento Bee 8/14/10

Owners of the Westfield Galleria at Roseville didn't want strangers talking to each other if they weren't talking about the mall.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal said Wednesday in a 43-page opinion that the company's rules of conduct "are unconstitutional on their face" under the California Constitution's free speech guarantee.

The specific rule at issue prohibits a person in the center's common areas from "approaching patrons with whom he or she was not previously acquainted for the purpose of communicating with them on a topic unrelated to the business interests" of the mall or its tenants.

Writing on behalf of the unanimous appellate panel, Associate Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye concluded "the rules allow conversation between strangers on matters related to the Galleria … while prohibiting peaceful, consensual, spontaneous conversations between strangers in common areas of the mall on topics unrelated to the … mall."

The panel reversed Placer Superior Court Judge Larry D. Gaddis' ruling in favor of Westfield LLC and sent the case back to him for further proceedings.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Shopping mall's speech restrictions torpedoed" by Bob Unruh © 2010 WorldNetDaily 8/13/10

"The [mall's] rules treat all applicants for noncommercial expressive activity the same way, but the rules are not content neutral because they prohibit or restrict speech unrelated to the mall's interests while permitting speech that is related to the mall's interest. The rules are content based," said the opinion from Associate Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

According to the Pacific Justice Institute, which represented a youth pastor targeted by mall enforcement of its speech rules, the case arose after a Matthew Snatchko was arrested at the Roseville Galleria Mall in 2007 for striking up a casual conversation with other shoppers about faith.

Pacific Justice said that under the mall's rules, shoppers are not allowed to engage in conversations about potentially controversial topics such as religion or politics unless they already know the person they are talking to. Another mall rule bans the wearing of any clothing with religious or political messages.

The court noted the seemingly innocuous behavior that prompted the mall to arrest the youth pastor.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.