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Law School Case Brief

Robins v. Pruneyard Shopping Ctr. - 23 Cal. 3d 899, 153 Cal. Rptr. 854, 592 P.2d 341 (1979)

Rule:

Cal. Const. art. I, §§ 2 and 3 protect speech and petitioning, reasonably exercised, in shopping centers even when the centers are privately owned.

Facts:

Plaintiffs M.R. and several other minor high school students ("Students") filed a lawsuit in California state court seeking to enjoin defendant Pruneyard Shopping Center ("Pruneyard") from preventing the Students' efforts to obtain signatures for a petition to the government. The trial court denied the injunction and the students sought review. Pruneyard contended that petitioning on its property was not protected under the California Constitution and should be subject to Pruneyard’s regulations as the owner of the shopping center, and that a different ruling would diminish Pruneyard's property rights.

Issue:

Did Cal. Const. art. I, §§ 2 and 3 protect free speech and petitioning, reasonably exercised, on privately owned shopping centers?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The state supreme court reversed the trial court's judgment. The court held that Pruneyard's rights were subordinated to society when concerning issues of the general welfare, such as health, safety, the environment, and aesthetics. The court held that free speech and petitioning, reasonably exercised, in shopping centers even when the centers were privately owned, were protected under the state constitution.

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