Cal. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Mall Free Speech Case

San Francisco, CA – The California Supreme Court yesterday denied review of a ruling in favor of a youth pastor and against the Galleria Mall in Roseville. The denial of review means the lower court opinion, which invalidated the mall’s tight restrictions on patrons’ speech, remains in effect.

In letting the ruling stand, the state Supreme Court ignored the heavy artillery employed by the mall—a blue-chip law firm with a former appellate judge as lead counsel, plus an array of amicus briefs and letters of support from numerous other shopping center owners and advocacy groups. The mall went so far as to get an amicus letter of support from KidsFirst of Placer County, which claimed that tight restrictions on speech are necessary in malls because people like Pastor Snatchko are dangerous to minors.

It is possible the mall’s owner, Westfield, which operates dozens of shopping centers throughout America, could further appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, such an appeal would face long odds since the U.S. Supreme Court grants review in only about one percent of all the cases appealed to it, and almost never where, as in this case, interpretation of state law predominates.

The youth pastor, Matthew Snatchko, is represented by attorneys with the Pacific Justice Institute. PJI president Brad Dacus, commented, “Incredibly, Westfield continues to insist that it should be allowed to arrest patrons for simply talking to each other. Not surprisingly, the courts have soundly rejected these arguments. Thanks to this week’s ruling from the California Supreme Court, the days of this draconian policy are numbered.”