International Society For Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Lee

505 U.S. 672 (1992)


Krishna (P) is a religious organization whose religions basically consists of fund-raising with a little bit of information thrown in. The airport that P's wanted to raise money at was funded by user fees and operated to make a regulated profit. The Port Authority was the leasing agent and retained control over unleased portions of the facilities. The terminals were accessible to the general public. The Port Authority adopted a regulation forbidding the repetitive solicitation of money or distribution of literature. This regulation only affected the terminals and not the sidewalks outside the terminal buildings. Petitioner brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the regulation worked to deprive them of rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. The District Court analyzed the claim under the 'traditional public forum' doctrine. It concluded that the terminals were akin to public streets, the quintessential traditional public fora. Thus, the Port Authority's terminal regulation could be sustained only if it was narrowly tailored to support a compelling state interest. The District Court granted petitioner summary judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. A divided panel concluded that the terminals are not public fora. As a result, the restrictions were required only to satisfy a standard of reasonableness. Under that standard, the ban on solicitation was reasonable, but the ban on distribution was not.