Tag Archives: lloyd v tanner

Lloyd v Tanner 1972

Reading the Diamond v Bland cases gives a summary understanding and adds perspective to the Lloyd case.

U.S. Supreme Court

LLOYD CORP. v. TANNER, 407 U.S. 551 (1972)

407 U.S. 551


No. 71-492.

Argued April 18, 1972
Decided June 22, 1972

Respondents sought to distribute handbills in the interior mall area of petitioner’s large privately owned shopping center. Petitioner had a strict no-handbilling rule. Petitioner’s security guards requested respondents under threat of arrest to stop the handbilling, suggesting that they could resume their activities on the public streets and sidewalks adjacent to but outside the center, which respondents did. Respondents, claiming that petitioner’s action violated their First Amendment rights, thereafter brought this action for injunctive and declaratory relief. The District Court, stressing that the center is “open to the general public” and “the functional equivalent of a public business district,” and relying on Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 , and Amalgamated Food Employees Union v. Logan Valley Plaza, 391 U.S. 308 , held that petitioner’s policy of prohibiting handbilling within the mall violated respondents’ First Amendment rights. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Held: There has been no dedication of petitioner’s privately owned and operated shopping center to public use so as to entitle respondents to exercise First Amendment rights therein that are unrelated to the center’s operations; and petitioner’s property did not lose its private character and its right to protection under the Fourteenth Amendment merely because the public is generally invited to use it for the purpose of doing business with petitioner’s tenants. The facts in this case are significantly different from those in Marsh, supra, which involved a company town with “all the attributes” of a municipality, and Logan Valley, supra, which involved labor picketing designed to convey a message to patrons of a particular store, so located in the center of a large private enclave as to preclude other reasonable access to store patrons. Under the circumstances present in this case, where the handbilling was unrelated to any activity within the center and where respondents had adequate alternative means of communication, the courts below erred in holding those decisions controlling. Pp. 556-570.

Majority opinion:

The argument reaches too far. The Constitution by no means requires such an attenuated doctrine of dedication of private property to public use. The closest decision in theory, Marsh v. Alabama, supra, involved the assumption by a private enterprise of all of the attributes of a state-created municipality and the exercise by that enterprise of semi-official municipal functions as a delegate of the State. 13 In effect, the owner of the company town was performing the full spectrum of municipal powers and stood in the shoes of the State. In the instant case there is no comparable assumption or exercise of municipal functions or power.

Nor does property lose its private character merely because the public is generally invited to use it for designated purposes. Few would argue that a free-standing store, with abutting parking space for customers, assumes significant public attributes merely because the public is invited to shop there. Nor is size alone the controlling factor. The essentially private character of a store and its privately owned abutting property does not change by virtue of being large or clustered with other stores in a modern shopping center. This is not to say that no differences may exist with respect to government regulation [407 U.S. 551, 570]   or rights of citizens arising by virtue of the size and diversity of activities carried on within a privately owned facility serving the public. There will be, for example, problems with respect to public health and safety which vary in degree and in the appropriate government response, depending upon the size and character of a shopping center, an office building, a sports arena, or other large facility serving the public for commercial purposes. We do say that the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of private property owners, as well as the First Amendment rights of all citizens, must be respected and protected. The Framers of the Constitution certainly did not think these fundamental rights of a free society are incompatible with each other. There may be situations where accommodations between them, and the drawing of lines to assure due protection of both, are not easy. But on the facts presented in this case, the answer is clear.

We hold that there has been no such dedication of Lloyd’s privately owned and operated shopping center to public use as to entitle respondents to exercise therein the asserted First Amendment rights. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment and remand the case to the Court of Appeals with directions to vacate the injunction.

It is so ordered.


The District Court observed that Lloyd Center invites schools to hold football rallies, presidential candidates to give speeches, and service organizations to hold Veterans Day ceremonies on its premises. The court also observed that the Center permits the Salvation Army, the Volunteers of America, and the American Legion to solicit funds in the Mall. Thus, the court concluded that the Center was already open to First Amendment activities, and that respondents could not constitutionally be excluded from distributing leaflets solely because Lloyd Center was not enamored of the form or substance of their speech. The Court of Appeals affirmed, taking the position that it was not extending either Logan Valley or Marsh. In other words, the District Court found that Lloyd Center had deliberately chosen to open its private property to a broad range of expression and that having done so it could not constitutionally exclude respondents, and the Court of Appeals affirmed this finding.

Petitioner apparently concedes that if the lower courts are correct, respondents should prevail. Brief for Petitioner 19. This concession is, in fact, mandated by our decision in Logan Valley, in which we specifically held that members of the public may exercise their First Amendment rights on the premises of a shopping center that is the functional equivalent of a business district if their activity is “generally consonant with the use to which the property is actually put.” 391 U.S., at 320 . If the property of Lloyd Center is generally open to First Amendment activity, respondents cannot be excluded. [407 U.S. 551, 579]

In his dissenting opinion in Logan Valley, 391 U.S., at 339 , Mr. JUSTICE WHITE said that the rationale of that case would require affirmance of a case like the instant one. Mr. JUSTICE WHITE, at that time, was convinced that our decision in Logan Valley, incorrect though he thought it to be, required that all peaceful and non-disruptive speech be permitted on private property that was the functional equivalent of a public business district.