Court battle: Malls v. freedom of speech

first_imgLines says no. “You can come and express your opinion about anything you want,” Lines said. “Just don’t tell people not to do what they came here to do – which is to shop.” Because the case has wide community appeal, it was chosen to be heard during a special state Supreme Court outreach session, aired on cable television. This year’s two-day session will be conducted at the Sonoma County Day School in Santa Rosa. More than 1,500 students from 22 public and private schools are expected to attend. Along with the free speech case, the justices will take on seven other cases, including breach of contract and the death penalty. But the case involving shopping boycotts promises to be among the most interesting. Historically, the places to protest have been public areas, like streets, parks and sidewalks of the traditional downtown business districts. But, in the 1970s, as malls replaced these outdoor public places as America’s favorite gathering and shopping spots, activists found themselves unable to reach their audience. Peter Eliasberg, an attorney with the Los Angeles Chapter of the ACLU, said stores, in effect, have found insulation from criticism. “If you can’t reach them and you can’t reach their shoppers, then you’re really taking away the power of activists and other interested shoppers to be effective with their speech,” said Eliasberg, who filed a brief in the case that supports the free speech rights of advocates. For the most part, shopping centers, like Lines’ client, the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego, welcome activists, but with some limitations, Lines said. Most mall owners require permits and will allow criticism of their retailers – but will not tolerate messages urging customers to boycott, he said. His Fashion Valley Mall case began over unpermitted demonstrators, but evolved into a legal issue that wasn’t even a part of the underlying events, Lines said. “Nowhere in there were they asking for a boycott,” Lines noted. In 1998, the union that represented employees at the San Diego Union-Tribune stood outside the Robinsons-May department store at the Fashion Valley Mall handing out leaflets to shoppers and employees. The leaflets said that the newspaper treated its employees unfairly and asked people to complain to the newspaper, and noted that the department store advertised in the publication. While the mall generally allows such protests on its property, the union representatives were asked to leave because they did not have a permit. The union complained to the National Labor Relations Board that the mall violated its rights to conduct union activity. During a series of administrative hearings, the NLRB ruled that the union had a right to hand out leaflets on mall property without applying for a permit. A federal appeals court, which got the case next, has now asked the California Supreme Court to settle the dispute. In a landmark 1979 case, the California Supreme Court interpreted the state Constitution to mean that free speech rights are extended to private property, like shopping malls. However, just how far those rights are extended is what will be decided in the Fashion Valley Mall case. “It’s a narrow issue: Can a shopping center stop solicitations of boycotts?” Lines said. “If the Supreme Court agrees with us, the only impact is that you can’t go on into a shopping center, stand in front of a store and tell people not to shop there.” Lines has made a career balancing the rights of shopping centers against those of people who come to them – mostly because of fallout from that 1979 ruling, he said. “We immediately had to start putting rules into place,” said Lines from his office located a stone’s throw from the Del Amo Fashion Center, which is owned by the same company that owns Fashion Valley Mall. Lines said he has done work in the past for Del Amo Fashion Center, as well as the owners of Plaza El Segundo. He began his career doing defense work but then moved to a Torrance law firm that represented some of the biggest shopping center developers of the time. About 10 years ago, he started his own practice and continued developing his speciality of regulating public access. He said he is surprised that this Fashion Valley Mall case is still pending and thinks back to the days after the demonstration that sparked the dispute. “I thought we could work something out,” he said with a chuckle. [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! And when some of these elements conflict, there is yet another American hallmark waiting to sort it out: the court of law. On Tuesday, the public will get a rare opportunity to watch the state Supreme Court in action – broadcast live on TV – as it tries to resolve a clash between two of the nation’s most beloved tenets: the freedom of speech and the freedom to shop. Arguing on behalf of retailers who want to ban people from organizing boycotts outside their stores will be Torrance attorney Mac Lines. A real estate litigator, Lines said the justices will have to decide a very narrow issue with potentially large implications for retailers and activists alike. The court must decide if people have a right to come to shopping centers and, while there, urge boycotts of the stores inside. TORRANCE: During a live Supreme Court broadcast, a local attorney will fight to keep boycotts away from stores. By Denise Nix STAFF WRITER Certain things are unmistakably American – apple pie, freedom of speech and shopping malls, to name a few. last_img read more

Europa League draw: Liverpool v Man United in last 16, Spurs to face Dortmund

first_img Liverpool and Manchester United players clash Liverpool and Manchester United have been drawn against each other in the last 16 of the Europa League.The pair – English football’s most successful clubs – will face off in the first leg at Anfield on March 10, while the reverse fixture at Old Trafford will take place a week later.It will be the first time the two bitter domestic rivals have met in European competition.Liverpool booked their place in the last 16 by seeing off Augsburg 1-0 over two legs, while United secured a 6-3 aggregate victory over FC Midtjylland.The Premier League’s other representative, Tottenham, will face tournament favourites Borussia Dortmund.The north London club beat Fiorentina 4-1 on aggregate to progress to the next round.Mauricio Pochettino’s side now face a formidable task against Dortmund, who are sitting second in the Bundesliga table, but will have the advantage of being at home for the second leg on March 17.Gary Neville’s Valencia have an all-Spanish tie having been drawn against Athletic Bilbao, while holders Sevilla will meet Basle.But there is no doubting the tie of the round is Liverpool v Manchester United.Five-time European Cup winners Liverpool have also tasted a trio of successes in the Europa League – lifting the then UEFA Cup in 1973, 1976 and 2001.United have three European Cup victories to their name but have never triumphed in this tournament.Louis van Gaal’s side slipped into the Europa League having failed to get out of their Champions League group stage and then went on to suffer a shock 2-1 defeat to FC Midtjylland in Demark.But, with pressure mounting on the United boss, they turned the tie around as they recorded a 5-1 victory at Old Trafford – with young striker Marcus Rashford scoring a brace on his first-team debut.Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool made heavy weather of their round of 32 tie with Augsburg, with a James Milner penalty early in Thursday’s second leg the only goal across both games and they have also lost at home and away in the Premier League to United this season.With both famous clubs struggling to get into the top four this season, winning the Europa League could yet prove to be the easiest way to qualify for next season’s Champions League and that will no doubt add even more spice to an already mouth-watering affair.UEFA Europa League last 16 draw:Shakhtar Donetsk v AnderlechtBasle v SevillaVillarreal v Bayer LeverkusenAthletic Bilbao v ValenciaLiverpool v Manchester UtdSparta Prague v LazioBorussia Dortmund v Tottenham HotspurFenerbahce v BragaGames will be played on 10th and 17th March. 1last_img read more