CA Supreme Court Rules on Hare Krishnas’ Airport Solicitations

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The California Supreme Court has made it more difficult for Hare Krishnas and other religious groups to receive donations from travelers.

Representatives of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, otherwise known as Hare Krishnas, have been a long-standing staple at Los Angeles International Airport and other airports since the 1970s. Wearing orange robes and flowers, and singing or chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, they aim to spread consciousness and to solicit donations.

In 1997, after the Los Angeles City Council first prohibited the receipt of monetary donations at LAX, which is city-owned property, and then amended the prohibition to allow solicitations in designated areas, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of California sued in federal court.

The initial ruling, handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall, favored the Hare Krishna’s right to ask for money from airplane travelers. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, asked the state’s high court to decide the case, since it was not a federal law but a state law that was being questioned.

Now, the California Supreme Court has upheld the Los Angeles City ordinance, calling the ban on solicitations a reasonable security measure which would protect airline passengers who are hurrying to make travel connections through the busy LAX airport.

The effect of the ruling will disallow Hare Krisnas and other religious groups from asking for donations, at LAX and other airports throughout the state.

The Hare Krishnas can still preach and chant in the airports, and they can also ask passersby to send cash and check donations later.

The court’s decision was unanimous. In the ruling, Justice Carlos Moreno wrote, “The problems posed by solicitations for the immediate receipt of funds that arise in any public place would be exacerbated in the often crowded and hectic environment of a large international airport.”

The Hare Krishna movement is based on traditional Hindu scriptures and ideals, and the organization counts among its holdings 400 spiritual centers, 60 farm communities, 50 school and 90 restaurants. The group’s members adhere to four regulatory principles, including abstinence from illicit sex, gambling and intoxication, and observance of a lacto-vegetarian diet.

 

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