Case Study 3
Gathering petitions in a shopping mall

Mike Robins and a group of his classmates went to their local shopping mall to seek support for their opposition to a United Nations resolution they believed to be anti-Semitic. They set up a table to distribute pamphlets and to ask shoppers to sign a petition. A security guard at the mall asked them to leave, and they did.

Robins and his friends then sued the shopping mall, claiming that their First Amendment rights had been violated. The shopping mall responded that free expression could be restricted at the mall because (1) it was private property, (2) the shopping center’s regulations forbid “publicly expressive” activities, and (3) the actions of the protesters interfered with people shopping and therefore with the merchants’ ability to make a living.

  • Is this speech protected?
  • If not, what harm might occur as a result of the speech?
  • What value or right is conflicting with free speech in this case?