|Lloyd Corp., Ltd. v. Tanner
[ Powell ]
[ Marshall ]
Lloyd Corp., Ltd. v. Tanner
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, with whom MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, and MR. JUSTICE STEWART join, dissenting.
Donald Tanner, Betsy Wheeler, and Susan Roberts (respondents) brought this action for a declaratory judgment that they have the right under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution to distribute handbills in a shopping center owned by petitioner and an injunction to enforce that right. [p571] Relying primarily on our very recent decision in Amalgamated Food Employees Union v. Logan Valley Plaza, 391 U.S. 308"]391 U.S. 308 (1968), the United States District Court for the District of Oregon granted the relief requested. 308 F.Supp. 128 (1970). The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. 446 F.2d 545 (1971). Today, this Court reverses the judgment of the Court of Appeals and attempts to distinguish this case from Logan Valley. In my view, the distinction that the Court sees between the cases does not exist. As I read the opinion of the Court, it is an attack not only on the rationale of Logan Valley, but also on this Court's longstanding decision in 391 U.S. 308 (1968), the United States District Court for the District of Oregon granted the relief requested. 308 F.Supp. 128 (1970). The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. 446 F.2d 545 (1971). Today, this Court reverses the judgment of the Court of Appeals and attempts to distinguish this case from Logan Valley. In my view, the distinction that the Court sees between the cases does not exist. As I read the opinion of the Court, it is an attack not only on the rationale of Logan Valley, but also on this Court's longstanding decision in Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946). Accordingly, I dissent.
Lloyd Center is a large, modern retail shopping center in Portland, Oregon. Sprawling over 50 acres of land, the Center offers to shoppers more than 60 commercial businesses and professional offices. It also affords more than 850,000 square feet of open and covered off-street parking space -- enough to accommodate more than 1,000 vehicles. Bounded by four public streets, Lloyd Center has a perimeter of almost one and one-half miles. Four public streets running east-west and one running north-south traverse the Center, and at least six other public streets run partly into or around it. All of these streets have adjacent sidewalks. These streets and sidewalks are the only parts of the Center that are not privately owned.
The principal portion of the Center is occupied by a shopping area called the "Mall." Covering approximately 25 acres of land and having a perimeter of four-fifths of a mile, the Mall, in the words of the District Court,
is a multi-level complex of buildings, parking facilities, sub-malls, sidewalks, stairways, elevators, escalators, [p572] bridges, and gardens, and contains a skating rink, statues, murals, benches, directories, information booths, and other facilities designed to attract visitors and make them comfortable.
308 F.Supp. at 129. No public streets cross the Mall, but some stores face those streets that form the perimeter, and it is possible to enter those stores from public sidewalks. Other stores are located in the interior of the Mall, and can only be reached by using privately owned walkways.
On November 14, 1968, respondents entered the Mall and distributed handbills inviting the public to a meeting to protest the draft and the Vietnam war. The distribution was peaceful, nondisruptive, and litter-free. Security guards employed by the Center approached respondents, indicated that the Center did not permit handbilling in the Mall, suggested that they distribute their materials on the public sidewalks and streets, and informed them that they could be arrested if they persisted in handbilling within the privately owned portions of the Center. These guards wore uniforms that were virtually identical to those worn by regular Portland police, and they possessed full police authority. Believing that they would be arrested if they did not leave the Mall, respondents departed, and subsequently filed this lawsuit. [n1]
A. The question presented by this case is whether one of the incidents of petitioner's private ownership of the Lloyd Center is the power to exclude certain [p573] forms of speech from its property. In other words, we must decide whether ownership of the Center gives petitioner unfettered discretion to determine whether or not it will be used as a public forum.
This Court held in Marsh v. Alabama, supra, that, even though property is privately owned, under some circumstances, it may be treated as though it were publicly held, at least for purposes of the First Amendment. In Marsh, a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious sect was arrested and convicted of violating Alabama's criminal trespass statute when she undertook to distribute religious literature in the downtown shopping area of a privately owned town without permission of the owner. The Court reasoned that
[t]he more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it.
Id. at 506. Noting that the stifling effect produced by any ban on free expression in a community's central business district was the same whether the ban was imposed by public or private owners, the Court concluded that:
When we balance the Constitutional rights of owners of property against those of the people to enjoy freedom of press and religion, as we must here, we remain mindful of the fact that the latter occupy a preferred position. As we have stated before, the right to exercise the liberties safeguarded by the First Amendment "lies at the foundation of free government by free men," and we must in all cases "weigh the circumstances and . . . appraise the . . . reasons . . . in support of the regulation . . . of the rights." . . . In our view, the circumstance that the property rights to the premises where the deprivation of liberty here involved took place were held by others than the public is not sufficient [p574] to justify the State's permitting a corporation to govern a community of citizens so as to restrict their fundamental liberties and the enforcement of such restraint by the application of a state statute.
(Footnotes and citations omitted.) Id. at 509.
We relied heavily on Marsh in deciding Logan Valley, supra. In Logan Valley, a shopping center in its formative stages contained a supermarket and department store. The supermarket employed a staff composed of only nonunion employees. Members of Amalgamated Food Employees Union, Local 590, began to picket the market with signs stating that the market's employees were not receiving union wages or union benefits. The picketing was carried out almost entirely in the parcel pickup area and that portion of the parking lot immediately adjacent thereto. 391 U.S. at 311. The supermarket sought and obtained an injunction from a Pennsylvania state court prohibiting the union members from trespassing upon the parking areas or in the store, the effect of which was to prohibit picketing and handbilling on any part of the private property and to relegate the union members to carrying signs on the publicly owned earthen berms that surrounded the shopping center. [n2] Finding that the shopping center was the functional equivalent of the business district involved in Marsh, we could see
no reason why access to a business district in a company town, for the purpose of exercising First Amendment rights, should be constitutionally required, [p575] while access for the same purpose to property functioning as a business district should be limited simply because the property surrounding the "business district" is not under the same ownership.
Id. at 319. Thus, we held that the union activity was constitutionally protected.
B. In the instant case, the District Court found that "the Mall is the functional equivalent of a public business district" within the meaning of Marsh and Logan Valley. The Court of Appeals specifically affirmed this finding, and it is overwhelmingly supported by the record.
The Lloyd Center is similar to Logan Valley Plaza in several respects: both are bordered by public roads, and the entrances of both lead directly into the public roads; both contain large parking areas and privately owned walkways leading from store to store; and the general public has unrestricted access to both. The principal differences between the two centers are that the Lloyd Center is larger than Logan Valley, that Lloyd Center contains more commercial facilities, that Lloyd Center contains a range of professional and nonprofessional services that were not found in Logan Valley, and that Lloyd Center is much more intertwined with public streets than Logan Valley. Also, as in Marsh, supra, Lloyd's private police are given full police power by the city of Portland, even though they are hired, fired, controlled, and paid by the owners of the Center. This was not true in Logan Valley.
In 1954, when Lloyd's owners first acquired land for the Center, the city of Portland vacated about eight acres of public streets for their use. The ordinance accomplishing the vacation sets forth the city's view of the Center's function:
WHEREAS the Council finds that the reason for these vacations is for general building purposes to [p576] be used in the development of a general retail business district and the development of an adequate parking area to support said district; . . . the Council . . . finds that, in order to develop a large retail unit such as contemplated by Lloyd Corporation, Ltd., it is necessary to vacate the streets above mentioned. . . .
(Emphasis added.) Ordinance No. 101288, Nov. 10, 1954, App. 202. The 1954 ordinance also indicates that the city of Portland was aware that, as Lloyd Center developed, it would be necessary for the city to build new streets and to take other steps to control the traffic flow that the Center would engender. App. 202, 208-209. In 1958, an emergency ordinance was passed giving the Lloyd Center an extension of time to meet various conditions on which the 1954 vacations were made. The city council viewed the projected Center as offering an "opportunity for much needed employment" and concluded that the emergency ordinance was "necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, peace and safety of the city of Portland." Ordinance No. 107641, March 20, 1958, App. 196.
In sum, the Lloyd Center is an integral part of the Portland community. From its inception, the city viewed it as a "business district" of the city, and depended on it to supply much-needed employment opportunities. To insure the success of the Center, the city carefully integrated it into the pattern of streets already established, and planned future development of streets around the Center. It is plain, therefore, that Lloyd Center is the equivalent of a public "business district" within the meaning of Marsh and Logan Valley. In fact, the Lloyd Center is much more analogous to the company town in Marsh than was the Logan Valley Plaza.
Petitioner agrees with our decision in Logan Valley that it is proper for courts to treat shopping centers [p577] differently from other privately owned property, like private residences. The Brief for Petitioner states at pages 9-10 that
[a] shopping center, which falls somewhere between the extremes of a company town and a private residence, is neither absolutely subject to the control of the owner nor is it absolutely open to all those wishing to engage in speech activities. . . .
* * * *
Each case requires an appropriate resolution of the conflicting interests of shopping center owners and those seeking to engage in speech activities on shopping center premises.
Petitioner contends that our decision in Logan Valley struck the appropriate balance between First Amendment and private property interests. The argument is made, however, that this case should be distinguished from Logan Valley, and this is the argument that the Court accepts.
As I have pointed out above, Lloyd Center is even more clearly the equivalent of a public business district than was Logan Valley Plaza. The First Amendment activity in both Logan Valley and the instant case was peaceful and nondisruptive, and both cases involve traditionally acceptable modes of speech. Why then should there be a different result here? The Court's answer is that the speech in this case was directed at topics of general interest -- the Vietnam war and the draft -- whereas the speech in Logan Valley was directed to the activities of a store in the shopping center, and that this factual difference is of constitutional dimensions. I cannot agree.
A. It is true that, in Logan Valley, we explicitly left open the question whether
property rights could, consistently [p578] with the First Amendment, justify a bar on picketing [or handbilling] which was not . . . directly related in its purpose to the use to which the shopping center property was being put.
391 U.S. at 320 n. 9. But I believe that the Court errs in concluding that this issue must be faced in the instant case.
The District Court observed that Lloyd Center invites schools to hold football rallies, presidential candidates to give speeches, and service organizations to hold Veterans Day ceremonies on its premises. The court also observed that the Center permits the Salvation Army, the Volunteers of America, and the American Legion to solicit funds in the Mall. Thus, the court concluded that the Center was already open to First Amendment activities, and that respondents could not constitutionally be excluded from distributing leaflets solely because Lloyd Center was not enamored of the form or substance of their speech. The Court of Appeals affirmed, taking the position that it was not extending either Logan Valley or Marsh. In other words, the District Court found that Lloyd Center had deliberately chosen to open its private property to a broad range of expression and that having done so it could not constitutionally exclude respondents, and the Court of Appeals affirmed this finding.
Petitioner apparently concedes that, if the lower courts are correct, respondents should prevail. Brief for Petitioner 19. This concession is, in fact, mandated by our decision in Logan Valley, in which we specifically held that members of the public may exercise their First Amendment rights on the premises of a shopping center that is the functional equivalent of a business district if their activity is "generally consonant with the use to which the property is actually put." 391 U.S. at 320. If the property of Lloyd Center is generally open to First Amendment activity, respondents cannot be excluded. [p579]
On Veterans Day, Lloyd Center allows organizations to parade through the Center with flags, drummers, and color guard units and to have a speaker deliver an address on the meaning of Veterans Day and the valor of American soldiers. Presidential candidates have been permitted to speak without restriction on the issues of the day, which presumably include war and peace. The American Legion is annually given permission to sell poppies in the Mall because Lloyd Center believes that "veterans . . . deserves [sic] some comfort and support by the people of the United States." [n3] In light of these facts, I perceive no basis for depriving respondents of the opportunity to distribute leaflets inviting patrons of the Center to attend a meeting in which different points of view would be expressed from those held by the organizations and persons privileged to use Lloyd Center as a forum for parading their ideas and symbols.
I believe that the lower courts correctly held that respondents' activities were directly related in purpose to the use to which the shopping center was being put. In my view, therefore, this case presents no occasion to consider whether or not Logan Valley should be extended. But, the Court takes a different view and concludes that Lloyd Center was never opened to First Amendment activity. Even if I could agree with the Court on this point, I would not reach a different result in this case.
B. If respondents had distributed handbills complaining about one or more stores in Lloyd Center or about [p580] the Center itself, petitioner concedes that our decision in Logan Valley would insulate that conduct from proscription by the Center. [n4] I cannot see any logical reason to treat differently speech that is related to subjects other than the Center and its member stores.
We must remember that it is a balance that we are striking -- a balance between the freedom to speak, a freedom that is given a preferred place in our hierarchy of values, and the freedom of a private property owner to control his property. When the competing interests are fairly weighed, the balance can only be struck in favor of speech.
Members of the Portland community are able to see doctors, dentists, lawyers, bankers, travel agents, and persons offering countless other services in Lloyd Center. They can buy almost anything that they want or need there. For many Portland citizens, Lloyd Center will so completely satisfy their wants that they will have no reason to go elsewhere for goods or services. If speech is to reach these people, it must reach them in Lloyd Center. The Center itself recognizes this. For example, in 1964, its director of public relations offered candidates for President and Vice President the use of the center for political speeches, boasting "that our convenient location and setting would provide the largest audience [the candidates] could attract in Oregon." App. 187.
For many persons who do not have easy access to television, radio, the major newspapers, and the other forms of mass media, the only way they can express themselves to a broad range of citizens on issues of general public concern is to picket, or to handbill, or to utilize other [p581] free or relatively inexpensive means of communication. The only hope that these people have to be able to communicate effectively is to be permitted to speak in those areas in which most of their fellow citizens can be found. One such area is the business district of a city or town or its functional equivalent. [n5] And this is why respondents have a tremendous need to express themselves within Lloyd Center.
Petitioner's interests, on the other hand, pale in comparison. For example, petitioner urges that respondents' First Amendment activity would disturb the Center's customers. It is undisputed that some patrons will be disturbed by any First Amendment activity that goes on, regardless of its object. But, there is no evidence to [p582] indicate that speech directed to topics unrelated to the shopping center would be more likely to impair the motivation of customers to buy than speech directed to the uses to which the Center is put, which petitioner concedes is constitutionally protected under Logan Valley. On the contrary, common sense would indicate that speech that is critical of a shopping center or one or more of its stores is more likely to deter consumers from purchasing goods or services than speech on any other subject. Moreover, petitioner acknowledges that respondents have a constitutional right to "leaflet" on any subject on public streets and sidewalks within Lloyd Center. It is difficult for me to understand why leafletting in the Mall would be so much more disturbing to the Center's customers.
I also find patently frivolous petitioner's argument that, if handbilling in the Mall is permitted, Lloyd Center would face inordinate difficulties in removing litter from its premises. The District Court found that respondents' activities were litter-free. Assuming, arguendo, that, if respondents had been permitted to continue their activities, litter might have resulted, I think that it is immediately apparent that, even if respondents confined their activities to the public streets and sidewalks of the Center as Lloyd's private police suggested, litter would have been a problem as the recipients of the handbills carried them to the shopping and parking areas. Petitioner concedes that it would have had to remove this litter. There is no evidence that the amount of litter would have substantially increased if respondents distributed the leaflets within the Mall. But, even assuming that the litter might have increased, that is not a sufficient reason for barring First Amendment activity. See, e.g., Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147 (1939). If petitioner is truly concerned about litter, it should accept a previous suggestion by this Court and prosecute those [p583] who throw handbills away, not those who use them for communicative purposes. [n6] Id. at 162.
In sum, the balance plainly must be struck in favor of speech.
C. Petitioner's other grounds for denying respondents access to the Mall can be dealt with quickly. The assertion is made that petitioner had the right to regulate the manner in which First Amendment activity took place on its property, and that, because the public streets and sidewalks inside the Center offered sufficient access to the public, it was permissible to deny respondents use of the Mall. The District Court found that certain stores in the Center could only be reached by using the private walkways of the Mall. Those persons who drove into the Center, parked in the privately owned parking lots, and who entered the stores accessible only through the Mall could not be safely reached from the public streets and sidewalks. Hence, the District Court properly found that the Mall was the only place where respondents had reasonable access to all of Lloyd Center's patrons. [n7] 308 F.Supp. at 131. At one point in this [p584] litigation, petitioner also attempted to assert that it was entitled to bar respondents' distribution of leaflets on the ground that the leaflets violated the Selective Service laws. The District Court found that this contention was without merit. 308 F.Supp. at 132-133. It seems that petitioner has abandoned the contention in this Court. In any event, it is meritless for the reasons given by the District Court.
In his dissenting opinion in Logan Valley, 391 U.S. at 339, MR. JUSTICE WHITE said that the rationale of that case would require affirmance of a case like the instant one. MR. JUSTICE WHITE, at that time, was convinced that our decision in Logan Valley, incorrect though he thought it to be, required that all peaceful and nondisruptive speech be permitted on private property that was the functional equivalent of a public business district.
As stated above, I believe that the earlier view of MR. JUSTICE WHITE is the correct one, that there is no legitimate way of following Logan Valley and not applying it to this case. But one may suspect from reading the opinion of the Court that it is Logan Valley itself that the Court finds bothersome. The vote in Logan Valley was 6-3, and that decision is only four years old. But, I am aware that the composition of this Court has radically changed in four years. The fact remains that Logan Valley is binding unless and until it is overruled. There is no valid distinction between that case and this one, and, therefore, the results in both cases should be the same. [p585]
While the majority is obviously troubled by the rationale of Logan Valley, it is interesting that none of the participants in this litigation have experienced any similar difficulty. Lloyd Corp. urges that Logan Valley was correctly decided, that it struck a balance that the First Amendment required us to strike, and that it has fully complied with Logan Valley with respect to labor activity. The American Retail Federation urges in its Brief as amicus curiae that a balance must be struck between the property interests of shopping center owners and the First Amendment interests of shopping center users. It does not urge that Logan Valley was incorrectly decided in any way.
It is true that Lloyd Corp. and the American Retail Federation ask the Court to distinguish this case from Logan Valley, but what is more important is that they recognize that, when massive areas of private property are opened to the public, the First Amendment may come into play. They would like, of course, to limit the impact of speech on their private property, but whether or not they can do so consistently with the First Amendment is a question that this Court must resolve.
We noted in Logan Valley that the large-scale movement of this country's population from the cities to the suburbs has been accompanied by the growth of suburban shopping centers. In response to this phenomenon, cities like Portland are providing for large-scale shopping areas within the city. It is obvious that privately owned shopping areas could prove to be greatly advantageous to cities. They are totally self-sufficient, needing no financial support from local government; and if, as here, they truly are the functional equivalent of a public business area, the city reaps the advantages of having such an area without paying for them. Some of the advantages are an increased tax base, a drawing attraction for residents, and a stimulus to further growth. [p586]
It would not be surprising in the future to see cities rely more and more on private businesses to perform functions once performed by governmental agencies. The advantage of reduced expenses and an increased tax base cannot be overstated. As governments rely on private enterprise, public property decreases in favor of privately owned property. It becomes harder and harder for citizens to find means to communicate with other citizens. Only the wealthy may find effective communication possible unless we adhere to Marsh v. Alabama and continue to hold that
[t]he more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it,
326 U.S. at 506.
When there are no effective means of communication, free speech is a mere shibboleth. I believe that the First Amendment requires it to be a reality. Accordingly, I would affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals.
1. There is some conflict in the testimony as to precisely what the guards told respondents with respect to the likelihood that they would be arrested if they did not leave the Mall. The Agreed Facts in the Pretrial Order states that the guards said that respondents could be arrested if they refused to leave. The District Court found that the guards caused respondents to believe that they would be arrested, and that this was the reason that they left the Mall. The Court of Appeals affirmed this finding, and it is supported by the record.
2. Logan Valley involved both picketing and handbilling, since the effect of the state court injunction was to ban both forms of expression. 391 U.S. at 322-323 and n. 12. We made it clear in Logan Valley that, while there were obvious differences between picketing and handbilling, both involved a modicum of a burden on property. We held that neither could be barred from a shopping center that was the functional equivalent of a public business district. Id. at 315-316.
3. App. 62 (testimony of R. Horn, manager of Lloyd Center). It is widely known that the American Legion is a Veteran's organization. See 1 Encyclopedia of Associations 997 (7th ed.1972). It is also common knowledge that the poppy is the symbol sold by the Legion to finance various of its activities. At times, the proceeds from selling poppies were used to finance lobbying and other activities directed at increasing the military capacity of the United States. R. Jones, A History of the American Legion 330-332 (1946).
4. The record indicates that, when unions have picketed inside the Mall, Lloyd Center has voiced no objections. App. 108 (testimony of R. Horn, manager of Lloyd Center). It is apparent that petitioner has no difficulty in accepting our decision in Logan Valley and in complying with it.
5. It is evident from the Court's opinion that the majority fails to grasp the essence of our decision in Logan Valley. The Court notes that there is a difference between a free-standing store and one located in a shopping center, and between small stores and extremely large ones, but suggests that, because the difference is "of degree, not of principle" it is unimportant. This flies directly in the face of Logan Valley, where we said that as private property expands to the point where it becomes, in reality, the business district of a community, the rights of the owners to proscribe speech on the part of those invited to use the property diminish. When the Court states that this was broad language that was somehow unnecessary to our decision, it betrays its misunderstanding of the holding.
As Mr. Justice Black and MR. JUSTICE WHITE both pointed out in dissent in Logan Valley, there was really only one issue before the Court -- i.e., whether the Logan Valley Plaza was prevented by the Fourteenth Amendment from inhibiting speech even though it was private property. The critical issue was whether the private property had sufficient "public" qualities to warrant a holding that the Fourteenth Amendment reached it. We answered this question in the affirmative, and the answer was the pivotal factor in our decision. Every member of the Court was acutely aware that we were dealing with degrees, not absolutes. But we found that degrees of difference can be of constitutional dimension. While any differences between the instant case and Logan Valley are immaterial in my view, such differences as there are make this a clearer case of illegal state action.
6. Since petitioner's security guards have full police power, they can enforce state laws against littering, just as they have enforced laws against loitering in the past. App. 45 (testimony of R. Horn, manager of Lloyd Center).
7. The Court implies that it is willing to reverse both lower courts and hold that their findings that alternative forums for leafletting in Lloyd Center were either not as effective as the Mall or dangerous are clearly erroneous. I too have read the record in this case, and I find no warrant for such a holding. The record plainly shows that it was impossible to reach many of the shoppers in the Center without using the Mall unless respondents were willing to approach cars as they were leaving the center. The District Court and the Court of Appeals took the view that requiring respondents to run from the sidewalk, to knock on car windows, to ask that the windows be rolled down so that a handbill could be distributed, to offer the handbill, run back to the sidewalk, and to repeat this gesture for every automobile leaving Lloyd Center involved hazards not only to respondents but also to other pedestrians and automobile passengers. Having never seen Lloyd Center, except in photographs contained in the record, and having absolutely no idea of the amount of traffic entering or leaving the Center, the Court cavalierly overturns the careful findings of facts below. This, in my opinion, exceeds even the most expansive view of the proper appellate function of this Court.