Say what, Roseville?
The Westfield Galleria at Roseville’s rules are “unconstitutional on their face” when it comes to restricting the rights of patrons—even irritating Christian youth ministers—to freely discuss religion, politics or anything else at the mall.
Dang! On their face, Roseville Galleria!
That’s the ruling from state appeals court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, released last week, in the case of Matthew Snatchko.
Snatchko was arrested back in 2006 when he refused a security guard’s order to stop proselytizing in the mall (see “One mall under God” by Cosmo Garvin, SN&R Frontlines, July 8).
Snatchko sued, but a Placer County Superior Court ruled that the mall’s owner, the Westfield Group, had a right to impose “reasonable time, place, and manner” restriction on any kind of political or religious speech.
Justice Cantil-Sakauye agreed that some regulation is important for public safety, but that “Westfield has not shown its content-based Rules are necessary to serve the interest of safety.”
Worse, the judge found that the rules prohibit unplanned classic pure free speech between strangers. For example, she said the mall’s policies were so broadly written, that they could be construed in such a way that “strangers could not choose to engage in impromptu chit chat while they stand in a check-out line in a common area.”
Brad Dacus, with the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, which provided Snatchko with pro bono legal help, called the ruling “a watershed moment for religious freedom and free speech.”
Westfield says it will now “consider [its] options for next steps including appeal to the California Supreme Court.”
But how likely is the state’s high court to take the case? After all, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most recent nominee to that court is Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
Compiled from Snog.