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Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins

Are Malls Public Places?

Should privately owned malls or shopping centers be treated as public places? If the answer is yes, a mall owner cannot restrict the exercise of First Amendment freedoms on his property any more than governments can restrict expression in public places.

Proponents contend the general public has essentially unrestricted access to shopping malls. As such, malls serve the functional equivalent of a community's business district. Whether the mall is publicly or privately owned would not be apparent, and an individual would not normally be aware that he was on private property. Therefore, when a shopping mall owner invites the public onto his property to conduct business, he gives up a degree of privacy rights in the public interest.

Opponents point out that even though malls are generally accessible to the public, they do not have all the features of a public business district and still maintain their private character. The public has an invitation to come to the shopping center to do business with its tenants but has no open-ended invitation to use the center for any and all purposes. Privately-owned malls are not dedicated to public use and should not be required to permit activities unrelated to the mall's business.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins - Significance, The State's Constitutional Guarantee Of Free Speech, The First Amendment Concerns, Related Cases