April 14, 2020 Articles

A Bloody Problem: Free Speech and Private Property Rights Collide in California

A recent case upends the legal landscape for shopping centers seeking to keep their properties free of gruesome images. This resulting conflict in First Amendment and private property rights calls for new legal strategies.

By Nancy J. Newman

A shopping center in California has every legal right to ban the use of vulgar or obscene expression on its private property premises. But what about grisly or gruesome imagery? Can a shopping center prohibit the display of dismembered bodies? According to a recent California Court of Appeal decision, the answer is no. The resulting jurisprudence creates a serious problem for owners and managers of shopping centers in California who wish to protect their rights to provide a peaceful shopping experience.  

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