The state constitution does not confer free speech rights at regional and community shopping centers that go beyond leafletting and associated speech in support of, or in opposition to, causes, candidates, and parties -- political and societal free speech.
Appellant anti-war coalition was denied the right to leaflet at respondent shopping centers and sought judicial relief to force respondents to allow them to do so. The trial court denied appellants relief, finding that there existed no free speech right on respondents' private property and the appellate court affirmed. On appeal, the court reversed and held that regional shopping centers, such as respondents, were required to allow such speech activities under N.J. Const. art. I, § 6.
Must regional shopping centers or malls permit the distribution of leaflets on societal issues?
The court found that there was no such right protected by U.S. Const. amend. I, but that the New Jersey provision was not restricted to government interference and that private property owners were required to allow political speech on their premises under certain circumstances. The public nature of regional shopping centers and their usurpation of the downtown business district were factors the court relied upon in its decision. The court held that leafletting and its accompanying speech were protected at regional shopping centers, but not smaller centers, and that respondents were permitted to institute appropriate restrictions on such activity.