Is an Airport a Public Forum for Freedom of Speech and Religious Expression?

The California Supreme Court, which didn’t do much for its reputation in its recent same-sex civil marriage ruling, now must decide if an airport is a forum for free speech:

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 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?"

Having both the 9th Circuit and the California Supreme Court involved is a frightening situation.  It’s easy, however, for 1970’s style cult watchers to dismiss this because the Hare Krishna’s are involved.  But the most important religious freedom we have in this country is that of freedom of expression of our religious beliefs, after which all others follow.  This is an important case and needs to be followed.

I find it curious that the Federal court kicked it back to the state.  Wouldn’t this case be decided on the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment?  Narrowing the permissible venues for freedom of expression–religious and otherwise–is a backdoor way to eviscerate these freedoms, just as it’s possible to zone churches out of various parts of a community.  It’s a decision that’s worth watching and praying about.

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