Krishna sect is still in court

Long Beach Press Telegram/December 3, 2002
By Linda Deutsch

Pasadena -- Three decades after California courts first confronted the issue of Hare Krishna devotees soliciting money in airports, the sect was in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where a judge suggested Monday they had come to the wrong place.

The point of law that was to have been argued was whether Los Angeles International Airport is a "public forum' under the Constitution, open to all who wish to propound their ideas.

Krishna members have long maintained they have a right to distribute literature and solicit donations at public forums which are places for free discussion. They have been involved in litigation on related matters since 1974, according to lawyer Barry Fisher, who was one of those appearing before the court.

Fisher's colleague, David M. Lieberman, tried to argue the public forum question but was sidetracked by Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, who suggested the case belongs in the California Supreme Court, not before a federal court.

The 9th Circuit's decision will be made at a later date.

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