Court asked if airports are public forum; Question could resolve Hare Krishna lawsuit

Chris Rizo Jun. 9, 2008, 11:00pm

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)-The California Supreme Court was asked Monday by a federal appeals court to determine whether an airport is a "public forum" under state law.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the request, saying that the state court's ruling will help it decide whether the International Society for Krishna Consciousness may solicit donations at the Los Angeles International Airport.

The Hare Krishna group is challenging a Los Angeles city ordinance passed in 1997 that bars solicitations of donations at the airport. Until the lawsuit is settled, the airport in 2002, began allowing limited solicitation in restricted areas.

"We conclude that the potential conflict between the application of the First Amendment and the California Constitution regarding freedom of speech at California's airports is one that the California Supreme Court should have the opportunity to address and resolve," the appeals court said.

The San Francisco-based appeals court said it specifically wants to know: "Is Los Angeles International Airport a public forum under the Liberty of Speech Clause of the California Constitution?"

The appeals court said the answer "will be determinative of the appeal presently before us. We find no clear controlling precedent in the decisions of the California Supreme Court."

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at

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