State Supreme Court affirms free speech safeguards for private shopping malls

San Diego Union-Tribune
By Greg Moran
December 25, 2007

A sharply divided state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that shopping malls can’t ban protesters from calling for boycotts of mall businesses.
The 4-3 ruling came in a case dating to 1998 involving the Fashion Valley mall and a labor union representing press workers at The San Diego Union-Tribune. The court majority said that free-speech rights – as interpreted under the state Constitution and a 1979 state Supreme Court case – also extend to the private property of shopping malls.

“Urging customers to boycott a store lies at the core of the right to free speech,” Associate Justice Carlos Moreno wrote for the majority. Moreno was joined by Chief Justice Ronald George and Associate Justices Joyce Kennard and Kathryn Mickle Werdegar.

In a strong dissent, Associate Justice Ming Chin criticized the ruling and said the court should have overturned the 1979 case that extended free-speech rights to shopping malls.
“Private property should be treated as private property, not as a public free speech zone,” Chin wrote.

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