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Law School Case Brief

Trader Joe's Co. v. Progressive Campaigns - 73 Cal. App. 4th 425, 86 Cal. Rptr. 2d 442 (1999)

Rule:

There is a state constitutional right to exercise free speech and petitioning activity on private property under Cal. Const. art. I. However, in determining the precise scope of that right, the appellate court must balance the competing interests of the property owner and of the society with respect to the particular property or type of property at issue to determine whether there is a state constitutional right to engage in the challenged activity.

Facts:

Progressive Campaigns, Inc. (Progressive) attempted to obtain signatures for initiative petitions from individuals patronizing the Trader Joe's store in Santa Rosa. Trader Joe's objected and halted the petitioning activity being conducted in front of its store entrance. In its subsequent trespass action, Trader Joe's obtained a preliminary injunction banning Progressive from soliciting signatures at the Santa Rosa Trader Joe's during the pendency of this action. Progressive appealed that preliminary injunction order. 

Issue:

Did the state constitutional right to engage in expressive activity on private property protect the challenged activity?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The appellate court affirmed, holding that Progressive’s right to engage in expressive activity on private property under Cal. Const. art. I, §§ 2 and 3, while affording greater protection than U.S. Const. amend. I, did not protect the challenged activities at Trader Joe's premises. Applying a balancing test, the appellate court held that Trader Joe's constitutionally protected property interests outweighed the public's interest in using the grocery store as a forum for free speech and petitioning activity, unlike that of a large shopping center whose relationships to other establishments transformed it into a public forum.

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