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Court: Hare Krishnas Barred From LAX Solicitation

By: for AP on March 26, 2010
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The California's high court ended a long-running legal battle Thursday when it barred the Hare Krishnas from soliciting donations at Los Angeles International Airport.

The unanimous ruling written by Justice Carlos Moreno upheld the Los Angeles ordinance barring solicitations as a reasonable security measure to protect harried passengers rushing to make travel connections at the airport known as LAX.

California's other major airports supported Los Angeles' legal position.

The religious group and other organizations will be barred from soliciting donations in California airports.

"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," Moreno wrote for the court.

The Hare Krishnas are still free to preach on airport property and ask passengers to send in donations later. But the group that has been a fixture at the airport since 1974 and was lampooned in the 1980 movie "Airplane!" is barred from receiving cash and checks on airport property. The ban applies to others groups, too.

"LAX is the first and last impression that millions of airline passengers and visitors have of Los Angeles," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. "This decision helps ensure the comfort and safety of the traveling public at LAX."

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness of California sued in federal court in 1997 when the Los Angeles City Council prohibited the receiving of donations at the city-owned airport. The council later changed the law to allow solicitations in designated areas until the initial federal lawsuit was filed.

U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall initially ruled in the Hare Krishnas' favor. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asked the California Supreme Court to decide the case because it was a state law rather than federal law being challenged.

NOTE: ISKCON News has spoken with involved parties and is tracking developments in this case. Original and updated coverage of this story will be posted by week's end.
-- Ed.
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