Justice Kennedy, concurring in the judgment.
I agree that the postal regulation reviewed here does not violate the First Amendment. Because my analysis differs in essential respects from that in Justice O'Connor's opinion, a separate statement of my views is required.
Many of those who use postal facilities do so from necessity, not choice. They must go to a post-office to conduct their business and personal correspondence, carrying cash for stamps or money orders. While it is legitimate for the Postal Service to ensure convenient and unimpeded access for postal patrons, the public's use of postal property for communicative purposes means that the surrounding walkways may be an appropriate place for the exercise of vital rights of expression. As society becomes more insular in character, it becomes essential to protect public places where traditional modes of speech and forms of expression can take place. It is true that the uses of the adjacent public buildings and the needs of its patrons are an important part of a balance, but there remains a powerful argument that, because of the wide range of activities that the Government permits to take place on this postal sidewalk, it is more than a nonpublic forum.
This is so even though the Government may intend to impose some limitations on the forum's use. If our public forum jurisprudence is to retain vitality, we must recognize that certain objective characteristics of Government property and its customary use by the public may control the case. See, e.g., Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., 473 U.S. 788, 819-820 (1985) (Blackmun, J., dissenting). While it is proper to weigh the need to maintain the dignity and purpose of a public building, see United States v. Grace, 461 U.S. 171, 182 (1983), or to impose special security requirements, see Adderley v. Florida, 385 U.S. 39 (1966), other factors may point to the conclusion that the Government must permit wider access to the forum than it has otherwise intended. Viewed in this light, the demand for recognition of heightened First Amendment protection has more force here than in those instances where the Government created a nontraditional forum to accommodate speech for a special purpose, as was thought true with teachers' mail boxes in Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U.S. 37 (1983), or the Combined Federal Campaign in Cornelius, supra.
It is not necessary, however, to make a precise determination whether this sidewalk and others like it are public or nonpublic forums; in my view, the postal regulation at issue meets the traditional standards we have applied to time, place, and manner restrictions of protected expression. See Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288, 293 (1984).
"[E]ven in a public forum the government may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of protected speech, provided the restrictions 'are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.'" Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. , (1989) (slip op., at 8) (quoting Clark, supra, at 293). The regulation, in its only part challenged here, goes no further than to prohibit personal solicitations on postal property for the immediate payment of money. The regulation, as the United States concedes, expressly permits the respondents and all others to engage in political speech on topics of their choice and to distribute literature soliciting support, including money contributions, provided there is no in-person solicitation for payments on the premises. See Brief for United States 39.
Just as the government has a significant interest in preventing "visual blight" in its cities, Members of City Council of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789, 810 (1984), in "maintaining [public] parks ... in an attractive and intact condition," Clark, supra, at 296, and in "avoiding congestion and maintaining the orderly movement" of persons using a public forum, Heffron v. International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc., 452 U.S. 640, 652 (1981), so the Government here has a significant interest in protecting the integrity of the purposes to which it has dedicated the property, that is, facilitating its customers' postal trans actions. Given the Postal Service's past experience with expressive activity on its property, I cannot reject its judgment that in-person solicitation deserves different treatment from alternative forms of solicitation and expression. Cf. Heff ron, supra, 665 (Blackmun, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). The same judgment has been made for the classic public forums in our Nation's capital. The solicitation of money is banned in the District of Columbia on the Mall and other parks under the control of the National Park Service. See 36 CFR 7.96(h) (1989).
The Postal Service regulation, narrow in its purpose, design, and effect, does not discriminate on the basis of content or viewpoint, is narrowly drawn to serve an important governmental interest, and permits respondents to engage in a broad range of activity to express their views, including the solicitation of financial support. For these reasons, I agree with Justice O'Connor that the Postal Service regulation is consistent with the protections of the First Amendment, and concur in the judgment of the Court.