Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins

    APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

    No. 79-289 Argued: March 18, 1980 --- Decided: June 9, 1980
    MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

    We postponed jurisdiction of this appeal from the Supreme Court of California to decide the important federal constitutional questions it presented. Those are whether state constitutional provisions, which permit individuals to exercise free speech and petition rights on the property of a privately owned shopping center to which the public is invited, violate the shopping center owner's property rights under the Fifth [p77] and Fourteenth Amendments or his free speech rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

    I

    Appellant PruneYard is a privately owned shopping center in the City of Campbell, Cal. It covers approximately 21 acres -- 5 devoted to parking and 16 occupied by walkways, plazas, sidewalks, and buildings that contain more than 65 specialty shops, 10 restaurants, and a movie theater. The PruneYard is open to the public for the purpose of encouraging the patronizing of its commercial establishments. It has a policy not to permit any visitor or tenant to engage in any publicly expressive activity, including the circulation of petitions, that is not directly related to its commercial purposes. This policy has been strictly enforced in a nondiscriminatory fashion. The PruneYard is owned by appellant Fred Sahadi.

    Appellees are high school students who sought to solicit support for their opposition to a United Nations resolution against "Zionism." On a Saturday afternoon they set up a card table in a corner of PruneYard's central courtyard. They distributed pamphlets and asked passersby to sign petitions, which were to be sent to the President and Members of Congress. Their activity was peaceful and orderly, and, so far as the record indicates, was not objected to by PruneYard's patrons.

    Soon after appellees had begun soliciting signatures, a security guard informed them that they would have to leave because their activity violated PruneYard regulations. The guard suggested that they move to the public sidewalk at the PruneYard's perimeter. Appellees immediately left the premises and later filed this lawsuit in the California Superior Court of Santa Clara County. They sought to enjoin appellants from denying them access to the PruneYard for the purpose of circulating their petitions.

    The Superior Court held that appellees were not entitled under either the Federal or California Constitution to exercise [p78] their asserted rights on the shopping center property. App. to Juris.Statement A-2. It concluded that there were "adequate, effective channels of communication for [appellees] other than soliciting on the private property of the [PruneYard]." Id. at A-3. The California Court of Appeal affirmed.

    The California Supreme Court reversed, holding that the California Constitution protects "speech and petitioning, reasonably exercised, in shopping centers even when the centers are privately owned." 23 Cal.3d 899, 910, 592 P.2d 341, 347 (1979). It concluded that appellees were entitled to conduct their activity on PruneYard property. In rejecting appellants' contention that such a result infringed property rights protected by the Federal Constitution, the California Supreme Court observed:

    "It bears repeated emphasis that we do not have under consideration the property or privacy rights of an individual homeowner or the proprietor of a modest retail establishment. As a result of advertising and the lure of a congenial environment, 25,000 persons are induced to congregate daily to take advantage of the numerous amenities offered by the [shopping center there]. A handful of additional orderly persons soliciting signatures and distributing handbills in connection therewith, under reasonable regulations adopted by defendant to assure that these activities do not interfere with normal business operations (see Diamond [v. Bland, 3 Cal.3d 653, 665, 477 P.2d 733, 741 (1970)]) would not markedly dilute defendant's property rights." ([Diamond v. Bland, 11 Cal.3d 331, 345, 521 P.2d 460, 470 (1974)] (dis. opn. of Mosk, J.).)

    Id. at 910-911, 592 P.2d at 347-348. The California Supreme Court thus expressly overruled its earlier decision in Diamond v. Bland, 11 Cal.3d 331, 521 P.2d 460 (Diamond II), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 885 (1974), which had reached an opposite conclusion. 23 Cal.3d at [p79] 910, 592 P.2d at 347. [n1] Before this Court, appellants contend that their constitutionally established rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to exclude appellees from adverse use of appellants' private property cannot be denied by invocation of a state constitutional provision or by judicial reconstruction of a State's laws of private property. We postponed consideration of the question of jurisdiction until the hearing of the case on the merits. 444 U.S. 949. We now affirm.

    II

    We initially conclude that this case is properly before us as an appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1257(2). It has long been established that a state constitutional provision is a "statute" within the meaning of § 1257(2). See, e.g., Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 489 (1961); Adamson v. California, 332 U.S. 46, 48, n. 2 (1947); Railway Express Agency, Inc. v. Virginia, 282 U.S. 440 (1931). Here the California Supreme Court decided that Art. 1, §§ 2 and 3, of the California Constitution gave appellees the right to solicit signatures on appellants' property in exercising their state rights of free expression and petition. [n2] In so doing, the California Supreme Court [p80] rejected appellants' claim that recognition of such a right violated appellants' "right to exclude others," which is a fundamental component of their federally protected property rights. Appeal is thus the proper method of review.

    III

    Appellants first contend that Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551"]407 U.S. 551 (1972), prevents the State from requiring a private shopping center owner to provide access to persons exercising their state constitutional rights of free speech and petition when adequate alternative avenues of communication are available. Lloyd dealt with the question whether, under the Federal Constitution, a privately owned shopping center may prohibit the distribution of handbills on its property when the handbilling is unrelated to the shopping center's operations. Id. at 552. The shopping center had adopted a strict policy against the distribution of handbills within the building complex and its malls, and it made no exceptions to this rule. Id. at 555. [n3] Respondents in Lloyd argued that, because the shopping center was open to the public, the First Amendment prevents the private owner from enforcing the handbilling restriction on shopping center premises. Id. at 564. [n4] [p81] In rejecting this claim, we substantially repudiated the rationale of 407 U.S. 551 (1972), prevents the State from requiring a private shopping center owner to provide access to persons exercising their state constitutional rights of free speech and petition when adequate alternative avenues of communication are available. Lloyd dealt with the question whether, under the Federal Constitution, a privately owned shopping center may prohibit the distribution of handbills on its property when the handbilling is unrelated to the shopping center's operations. Id. at 552. The shopping center had adopted a strict policy against the distribution of handbills within the building complex and its malls, and it made no exceptions to this rule. Id. at 555. [n3] Respondents in Lloyd argued that, because the shopping center was open to the public, the First Amendment prevents the private owner from enforcing the handbilling restriction on shopping center premises. Id. at 564. [n4] [p81] In rejecting this claim, we substantially repudiated the rationale of Food Employees v. Logan Valley Plaza, 391 U.S. 308"]391 U.S. 308 (198), which was later overruled in 391 U.S. 308 (198), which was later overruled in Hudgens v. NLRB, 424 U.S. 507 (1976). We stated that property does not "lose its private character merely because the public is generally invite to use it for designated purposes," and that " [t]he essentially private character of a store and its privately owned abutting property does not change by virtue of being large or clustered with other stores in a modern shopping center." 407 U.S. at 569.

    Our reasoning in Lloyd, however, does not, ex proprio vigore, limit the authority of the State to exercise its police power or its sovereign right to adopt in its own Constitution individual liberties more expansive than those conferred by the Federal Constitution. Cooper v. California, 386 U.S. 58, 62 (1967). See also 407 U.S. at 569-570. In Lloyd, supra, there was no state constitutional or statutory provision that had been construed to create rights to the use of private property by strangers, comparable to those found to exist by the California Supreme Court here. It is, of course, well established that a State, in the exercise of its police power, may adopt reasonable restrictions on private property so long as the restrictions do not amount to a taking without just compensation or contravene any other federal constitutional provision. See, e.g., Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365 (1926); Young v. American Mini Theatres, Inc., 427 U.S. 50 (1976). Lloyd held that, when a shopping center owner opens his private property to the public for the purpose of shopping, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not thereby create individual rights in expression beyond those already existing under applicable law. See also Hudgens v. NLRB, supra at 517-521. [p82]

    IV

    Appellants next contend that a right to exclude others underlies the Fifth Amendment guarantee against the taking of property without just compensation and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee against the deprivation of property without due process of law. [n5]

    It is true that one of the essential sticks in the bundle of property rights is the right to exclude others. Kaiser Aetna v. United States, 444 U.S. 164, 179-10 (1979). And here there has literally been a "taking" of that right to the extent that the California Supreme Court has interpreted the State constitution to entitle its citizens to exercise free expression and petition rights on shopping center property. [n6] But it is well established that "not every destruction or injury to property by governmental action has been held to be a ‘taking' in the constitutional sense." Armstrong v. United States, 364 U.S. 40, 48 (1960). Rather, the determination whether a state law unlawfully infringes a landowner's property in [p83] violation of the Taking Clause requires an examination of whether the restriction on private property "forc[es] some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole." Id. at 49. [n7] This examination entails inquiry into such factors as the character of the governmental action, its economic impact, and its interference with reasonable investment-backed expectations. Kaiser Aetna v. United States, supra, at 175. When "regulation goes too far, it will be recognized as a taking." Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, 260 U.S. 393, 415 (1922).

    Here the requirement that appellants permit appellees to exercise state-protected rights of free expression and petition on shopping center property clearly does not amount to an unconstitutional infringement of appellants' property right under the Taking Clause. There is nothing to suggest that preventing appellants from prohibiting this sort of activity will unreasonably impair the value or use of their property as a shopping center. The PruneYard is a large commercial complex that covers several city blocks, contains numerous separate business establishments, and is open to the public at large. The decision of the California Supreme Court makes it clear that the PruneYard may restrict expressive activity by adopting time, place, and manner regulations that will minimize any interference with its commercial functions. Appellees were orderly, and they limited their activity to the [p84] common areas of the shopping center. In these circumstances, the fact that they may have "physically invaded" appellants' property cannot be viewed as determinative.

    This case is quite different from Kaiser Aetna v. United States, supra. Kaiser Aetna was a case in which the owners of a private pond had invested substantial amounts of money in dredging the pond, developing it into an exclusive marina, and building a surrounding marina community. The marina was open only to fee-paying members, and the fees were paid in part to "maintain the privacy and security of the pond." Id. at 168. The Federal Government sought to compel free public use of the private marina on the ground that the marina became subject to the federal navigational servitude because the owners had dredged a channel connecting it to "navigable water."

    The Government's attempt to create a public right of access to the improved pond interfered with Kaiser Aetna's "reasonable investment backed expectations." We held that it went "so far beyond ordinary regulation or improvement for navigation as to amount to a taking. . . ." Id. at 178. Nor, as a general proposition, is the United States, as opposed to the several States, possessed of residual authority that enables it to define "property" in the first instance. A State is, of course, bound by the Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment, Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co. v. Chicago, 166 U.S. 226, 233, 236-237 (1897), but here appellants have failed to demonstrate that the "right to exclude others" is so essential to the use or economic value of their property that the state-authorized limitation of it amounted to a "taking."

    There is also little merit to appellants' argument that they have been denied their property without due process of law. In Nebbia v. New York, 291 U.S. 502 (1934), this Court stated:

    [N]either property rights nor contract rights are absolute. . . . Equally fundamental with the private right [p85] is that of the public to regulate it in the common interest. . . .

    * * * *

    . . . [T]he guaranty of due process, as has often been held, demands only that the law shall not be unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious, and that the means selected shall have a real and substantial relation to the objective sought to be attained.

    Id. at 523, 525. See also Railway Express Agency, Inc. v. New York, 336 U.S. 106 (1949); Exxon Corp. v. Governor of Maryland, 437 U.S. 117, 124-125 (1978). Appellants have failed to provide sufficient justification for concluding that this test is not satisfied by the State's asserted interest in promoting more expansive rights of free speech and petition than conferred by the Federal Constitution. [n8]

    V

    Appellants finally contend that a private property owner has a First Amendment right not to be forced by the State to use his property as a forum for the speech of others. [n9] They [p86] state that, in Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977), this Court concluded that a State may not constitutionally require an individual to participate in the dissemination of an ideological [p87] message by displaying it on his private property in a manner and for the express purpose that it be observed and read by the public. This rationale applies here, they argue, because the message of Wooley is that the State may not force an individual to display any message at all.

    Wooley, however, was a case in which the government itself prescribed the message, required it to be displayed openly on appellee's personal property that was used "as part of his daily life," and refused to permit him to take any measures to cover up the motto even though the Court found that the display of the motto served no important state interest. Here, by contrast, there are a number of distinguishing factors. Most important, the shopping center, by choice of its owner, is not limited to the personal use of appellants. It is instead a business establishment that is open to the public to come and go as they please. The views expressed by members of the public in passing out pamphlets or seeking signatures for a petition thus will not likely be identified with those of the owner. Second, no specific message is dictated by the State to be displayed on appellants' property. There consequently is no danger of governmental discrimination for or against a particular message. Finally, as far as appears here, appellants can expressly disavow any connection with the message by simply posting signs in the area where the speakers or handbillers stand. Such signs, for example, could disclaim any sponsorship of the message and could explain that the persons are communicating their own messages by virtue of state law.

    Appellants also argue that their First Amendment rights have been infringed in light of West Virginia State Board of [p88] Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624"]319 U.S. 624 (1943), and 319 U.S. 624 (1943), and Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 (1974). Barnette is inapposite, because it involved the compelled recitation of a message containing an affirmation of belief. This Court held such compulsion unconstitutional because it "require[d] the individual to communicate by word and sign his acceptance" of government-dictated political ideas, whether or not he subscribed to them. 319 U.S. at 633. Appellants are not similarly being compelled to affirm their belief in any governmentally prescribed position or view, and they are free to publicly dissociate themselves from the views of the speakers or handbillers.

    Tornillo struck down a Florida statute requiring a newspaper to publish a political candidate's reply to criticism previously published in that newspaper. It rests on the principle that the State cannot tell a newspaper what it must print. The Florida statute contravened this principle in that it "exact[ed] a penalty on the basis of the content of a newspaper." 418 U.S. at 256. There also was a danger in Tornillo that the statute would "dampe[n] the vigor and limi[t] the variety of public debate" by deterring editors from publishing controversial political statements that might trigger the application of the statute. Id. at 257. Thus, the statute was found to be an "intrusion into the function of editors." Id. at 258. These concerns obviously are not present here.

    We conclude that neither appellants' federally recognized property rights nor their First Amendment right have been infringed by the California Supreme Court's decision recognizing a right of appellees to exercise state-protected rights of expression and petition on appellants' property. The judgment of the Supreme Court of California is therefore

    Affirmed.

    MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN joins the opinion of the Court except that sentence thereof, ante at 84, which reads:

    Nor [p89] as a general proposition is the United States, as opposed to the several States, possessed of residual authority that enables it to define "property" in the first instance.

    1. The California Supreme Court, in Diamond II, had reasoned:

    In this case, as in Lloyd [Corp. v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551"]407 U.S. 551 (1972)], plaintiffs have alternative, effective channels of communication, for the customers and employees of the center may be solicited on any public sidewalks, parks and streets adjacent to the Center and in the communities in which such persons reside. Unlike the situation in Marsh [v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946)] and [407 U.S. 551 (1972)], plaintiffs have alternative, effective channels of communication, for the customers and employees of the center may be solicited on any public sidewalks, parks and streets adjacent to the Center and in the communities in which such persons reside. Unlike the situation in Marsh [v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946)] and [Food Employees v. Logan Valley Plaza, 391 U.S. 308 (1968)], no reason appears why such alternative means of communication would be ineffective, and plaintiffs concede that, unlike Logan, their initiative petition bears no particular relation to the shopping center, its individual stores, or patrons.

    11 Cal.3d at 335, 521 P.2d at 463. Diamond II thus held that the shopping center owner's property rights outweighed the rights of free expression and petition asserted by the plaintiffs. Ibid.

    2. Article 1, § 2, of the California Constitution provides:

    Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for tho abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.

    Article 1, § 3, of the California Constitution provides:

    [P]eople have the right to . . . petition government for redress of grievances.

    3. The center had banned handbilling because it

    was considered likely to annoy customers, to create litter, potentially to create disorders, and generally to be incompatible with the purpose of the Center and the atmosphere sought to be preserved.

    407 U.S. at 555-556.

    4. Respondents relied on Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501"]326 U.S. 501 (1946), and 326 U.S. 501 (1946), and Food Employees v. Logan Valley Plaza, 391 U.S. 308 (168), in support of their claim that the shopping center's permission to the public to enter its property for the purpose of shopping caused its property to lose its private character, thereby permitting members of the public to exercise the same free speech rights as they would have on similar public facilities or the streets of a city or town. Both of those cases, however, involved no state law authorizing the conduct of the solicitors or handbillers.

    5. Appellants do not maintain that this is a condemnation case. Reply Brief for Appellants 2. Rather, they argue that

    [t] he rights of a property owner . . . are rooted in the Fifth Amendment guarantee against the taking of property without just compensation, and are incorporated in the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee against the deprivation of property without due process of law.

    Brief for Appellants 10. Here, of course, if the law required the conclusion that there was a "taking," there was concededly no compensation, just or otherwise, paid to appellants. This argument falls within appellants' contention that Lloyd is controlling, see 407 U.S. at 567, and was adequately presented below. See New York ex rel. Bryant v. Zimmerman, 278 U.S. 63, 67 (1928).

    6. The term "property" as used in the Taking Clause includes the entire "group of rights inhering in the citizen's [ownership]." United States v. General Motors Corp., 323 U.S. 373 (1945). It is not used in the

    vulgar and untechnical sense of the physical thing with respect to which the citizen exercises rights recognized by law. [Instead, it] denote[s] the group of rights inhering in the citizen's relation to the physical thing, as the right to possess, use and dispose of it. . . . The constitutional provision is addressed to every sort of interest the citizen may possess.

    Id. at 377-378.

    7. Thus, as this Court stated in Monongahela Navigation Co. v. United States, 148 U.S. 312, 325 (1893), a case which has since been characterized as resting primarily on "estoppel," see, e.g., United States v. Rands, 389 U.S. 121, 126 (1967), the Fifth Amendment

    prevents the public from loading upon one individual more than his just share of the burdens of government, and says that, when he surrenders to the public something more and different from that which is exacted from other members of the public, a full and just equivalent shall be returned to him.

    See also Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104, 123-125 (1978); Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, 260 U.S. 393, 416 (1922).

    8. Although appellants contend there are adequate alternative avenues of communication available for appellees, it does not violate the United States Constitution for the State Supreme Court to conclude that access to appellants' property in the manner required here is necessary to the promotion of state-protected rights of free speech and petition.

    9. Appellees contend that this issue is not properly before us because appellants have not met their burden of showing that it was raised in the state courts. It is well settled that, in challenging the validity of a state law on the ground that it is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States,

    [n]o particular form of words or phrases is essential, but only that the claim of invalidity on the ground therefor be brought to the attention of the state court with fair precision and in due time. And if the record as a whole shows either expressly or by clear intendment that this was done, the claim is to be regarded as having been adequately presented.

    New York ex rel. Bryant v. Zimmerman, 278 U.S. at 67.

    Before the Supreme Court of California, appellants argued:

    The constitutional right to exclude potential communicants from private property is inextricably intertwined with the right of the property owner to select the way he wishes to use his property. . . . The right, which has been recognized as deriving from the owner's status as owner, also derives from the owner's status as himself a potential communicant. Defendant urges that his constitutional right to free speech would be infringed if he were required to make his property available to others for the purpose of their expressive activity.

    Brief in Response to Amici Curiae Briefs in No. S.F. 23812, p. 39 (Sup.Ct.Cal.). In making this argument, appellants explicitly relied on Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977), and West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). Brief in Response to Amici Curiae Briefs, supra at 40-42. Before this Court, appellants contend that

    [t] he constitutional rights of private property owners also have their origins in the First Amendment right of the property owner not to be forced by the state to use his property as a forum for the speech of others.

    Brief for Appellants 12. See also Juris.Statement 12. And appellants, throughout this litigation, have been asserting their federal constitutional right to prohibit public expressive activity on their property that is not directly related to PruneYard's commercial purposes.

    In addition, this Court has held federal claims to have been adequately presented even though not raised in lower state courts when the highest state court renders an unexpected interpretation of state law or reverses its prior interpretation. Brinkerhoff-Faris Trust & Savings Co. v. Hill, 281 U.S. 673, 677-678 (1930); Missouri ex rel. Missouri Ins. Co. v. Gehner, 281 U.S. 313, 320 (1930); Saunders v. Shaw, 244 U.S. 317, 320 (1917). Here, prior to its decision below, the California Supreme Court had expressly decided to follow Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551 (1972), in defining the scope of state constitutional rights of free speech and petition. Diamond II, 11 Cal.3d at 335, 521 P.2d at 463. It was not until the instant case that the California Supreme Court overruled Diamond II, supra, and held that the California Constitution can and does require shopping center owners to grant access to individuals exercising their state rights of free expression and petition.


    Prior to reaching the California Supreme Court, appellants argued that the Diamond II decision bound the California Superior Court and Court of Appeal to rule in appellants' favor. Appellants prevailed in these courts, and Diamond II was held to be controlling. Once before the California Supreme Court, as noted above, appellants explicitly presented their federal constitutional right t.o prohibit public expression on their property in terms of Wooley and Barnette. It was not until that time that they could have reasonably expected that the validity of the earlier Diamond II decision would be questioned. In these circumstances, we conclude that appellants have adequately raised the federal question.
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