Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner: Handbilling within a Shopping Mall Not Directed At a Store Is Not Protected By the First Amendment Unless No Adequate Alternative Location Exists


The First and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution guarantee that an individual’s freedom of speech will not be abridged by either the national or state governments. In addition, federal statutes and judicial decisions have applied this constitutional protection to speech curtailed by private parties who through their ownership of certain properties act in a quasi-public capacity. In these latter cases, not only must a court define which communicative acts exercised at which times and in which places enjoy the protection of the first amendment, but it must also resolve the seeming conflict between the guarantee of free speech and the guarantee protecting private ownership of property.

This clash of the right of free speech and the right of private property has arisen in many varied contexts, e.g. company towns, migrant camps, railroad stations and supermarket sidewalks. One situation which has provoked considerable litigation is that of picketing and handbilling in privately owned shopping centers. In Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner the Supreme Court considered the issue of first amendment rights in such a context and struck a balance in favor of property rights.

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