PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins

PETITIONER: PruneYard Shopping Center
RESPONDENT: Robins
LOCATION: The Pruneyard

DOCKET NO.: 79-289
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of California

CITATION: 447 US 74 (1980)
ARGUED: Mar 18, 1980
DECIDED: Jun 09, 1980

ADVOCATES:
Elinor Hadley Stillman - for United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
Elinor Hadley Stillman - Argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance
Max L. Gillam, Jr. - Argued the cause for the appellants
Philip L. Hammer - Argued the cause for the appellee

Facts of the case

High school students seeking support for their opposition to a United Nations resolution against Zionism set up a table in PruneYard to distribute literature and solicit signatures for a petition. A security guard told them to leave since their actions violated the shopping center's regulations against "publicly expressive" activities.

Question

Did PruneYard's regulations violate the students' free speech rights?

Media for PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 18, 1980 (Part 1) in PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 18, 1980 (Part 2) in PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins

Warren E. Burger:

Ms. Stillman, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Elinor Hadley Stillman:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

Appellants have been making some arguments here which sound like the type of privacy arguments customarily made by individuals.

I think it's important to focus on what we have in this case.

What we have is someone who is engaged in a business operation, a business operation which the California Supreme Court has found has altered the urban -- suburban landscape of California in a way that has diverted the traditional audiences that used to assemble in parks.

Now, the Court, as far back as Nebbia, has recognized that if one embarks in a business which public interest demands shall be regulated, he must know regulation will ensue.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, how much regulation -- are you speaking of regulation in the sense of utilities, railroads, airlines?

Elinor Hadley Stillman:

No, regulation in the interest of promoting the public health, safety, welfare and morals.

Now --

Warren E. Burger:

Of course, in that sense, you -- every -- every man's home is regulated, too.

Elinor Hadley Stillman:

But obviously, there are characteristics of a home which are different from the business operation which invites in the general public to -- and -- and conducts operations on such a scale that raise problems that -- that are -- can be expected to bring about the interest of -- of state regulation.

And I would --

Warren E. Burger:

Well, from my part -- from my part, Ms. Stillman, I'm -- I'm interested and I know that no one can tell us the whole scope of this opinion, but I'm interested in specific points.

You heard in my question to your colleague about the large hotel lobby, maybe twice as big as -- three times as big as this room, surrounded by 25, 30, 35 stores.

Is -- they invite the public very anxiously, they're anxious to have them.

Now, does this -- may they pass out leaflets in the lobby of that hotel?

Elinor Hadley Stillman:

Well, to some degree, hotel lobbies are -- perhaps don't issue quite the same invitation that the -- that the owner of a shopping center does.

But to the extent that the --

Warren E. Burger:

Well, do they -- do they have access doors going from the lobby --

Elinor Hadley Stillman:

True.

Warren E. Burger:

-- into the shop.

That's --

Elinor Hadley Stillman:

True.

Warren E. Burger:

-- some kind of an invitation for people in the lobbies who go into the shop and hotels do not limit access to the lobby to guests at the hotel.

Elinor Hadley Stillman:

Well, Your Honor, to -- I -- I think it would be proper if this -- for the California Supreme Court if they made the kind of findings about large hotel lobbies of the kind that you're talking about, that they made about shopping centers to have -- and if they found that the State broad free speech right, which is not restricted to simply limiting government restraints, could not be effectuated.

Otherwise, I -- I don't know that it would be proper for this Court to reexamine the wisdom of -- of that finding.

But I think --

William H. Rehnquist:

You -- you're here for the Government, Ms. Stillman, I take it, not on behalf of the State of California --

Elinor Hadley Stillman:

No.

William H. Rehnquist:

-- but for the Federal Government --