L.A. Shopping Mall Bars Boxer Manny Pacquiao from Being Interviewed at Mall, Citing Pacquaio’s Anti-Gay Statements

The L.A. CBS station reports:

Pacquiao was scheduled for an interview on Wednesday afternoon with Mario Lopez of TV’s “Extra” at The Grove in Los Angeles, but … Grove VP of corporate affairs Bill Reich … [issued a statement that] read, “Based on news reports of statements made by Mr. Pacquiao we have made it be known that he is not welcome at The Grove and will not be interviewed here now or in the future. The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos and not a place for intolerance[.]”

According to the CBS piece, Pacquaio — who is also a congressman in the Philippines — “told the National Conservative Examiner that he believes the Bible is very clear on the issue of homosexuality and that the President’s comments are in direct contradiction to Scripture,” saying “God’s words first”; “Obey God’s law first before considering the laws of man.” Then the writer of the article quoted the Leviticus passage stating, “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” Pacquaio now denies having quoted Leviticus on this or otherwise “stat[ing] that anyone in the gay community ‘deserved death,'” but it’s possible that the Grove VP believed that Pacquaio had indeed made such a statement.

In any event, it appears that the Grove, as a pretty large open-air shopping mall, is barred by the California Constitution, as interpreted by the California Supreme Court in Robins v. PruneYard Shopping Center (1979) and Fashion Valley Mall v. NLRB (2007), from excluding Pacquaio. The California courts have held that speech is just as protected against content-based restrictions by these large shopping mall owners as it is against content-based restrictions by the government in its role as owner of sidewalks and parks; and this is true even when the content of the speech may undermine the shopping center’s (and its tenants’) business interests (e.g., when it calls for a boycott of some of the tenants). I think that likewise the shopping center can’t restrict speech based on its moral disapproval of the speaker’s political views, or its perception that other patrons might find those views offensive.

To be sure, here the restriction is imposed based on the content and viewpoint of the speaker’s outside speech, and not necessarily the content of the likely speech in the mall. But I think that, one way or the other, the Grove’s restriction would be treated as content-based and violative of the California Constitution (though it seems unlikely that Pacquaio or his prospective interviewer will sue the Grove over this).

I say this just as a description of California law; I don’t think that the California Supreme Court’s decision in Robins was a sound interpretation of the California Constitution, and I’m pleased that only about half a dozen state courts, when I last checked, have taken a similar view of their state constitutions. Thanks to Daniel Watts for the pointer.