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Law School Case Brief

Albertson's, Inc. v. Young - 107 Cal. App. 4th 106, 131 Cal. Rptr. 2d 721 (2003)

Rule:

In free speech analysis, to establish a quasi-public forum at a particular store, it is not enough that a large number of people visit the store. A location will be considered a quasi-public forum only when it is the functional equivalent of a traditional public forum as a place where people choose to come and meet and talk and spend time. 

Facts:

A supermarket owner brought an action for injunctive and declaratory relief against individuals who sought to solicit signatures on initiative petitions by stationing themselves on the privately-owned walkway immediately outside of the entrances to the store. The trial court ruled that the store was not the functional equivalent of a traditional public forum, and, therefore, defendants did not have a constitutional right to use it to solicit signatures.

Issue:

Was the grocery the equivalent of a traditional public forum?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The court held that the grocery store was not the equivalent of a traditional public forum and, therefore, the solicitors did not have a right under Cal. Const. art. I, §§ 2 and 3, to carry on their solicitations there. The store was not in a mall, was privately owned, and was not in an area, nor did it provide places for, the gathering and socializing by citizens. The court rejected the claim that the grocery was a quasi-public forum, as the other shopping center businesses had not been made parties to the suit and the evidence had been limited to the grocery's customer numbers. The court also held that the grocery's time, place, and manner restrictions on the use of its premises for expressive purposes did not make the grocery the equivalent of a traditional public forum, nor did that give the solicitors a constitutional right to use the property in disregard of the grocery's rules.

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