DALLAS COUNTY HOSPITAL DIST. v. DALLAS ASS'N. OF COMMUNITY
Annotate this Case
459 U.S. 1052 (1982)
U.S. Supreme Court
DALLAS COUNTY HOSPITAL DIST. v. DALLAS ASS'N. OF COMMUNITY , 459 U.S. 1052 (1982)
459 U.S. 1052
DALLAS COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT
DALLAS ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS FOR REFORM NOW et al
Supreme Court of the United States
November 29, 1982
On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.
Justice REHNQUIST, dissenting.
The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held in this case that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments a hospital, like city streets and parks is a "public forum" which must be made available to protestors and demonstrators subject only to reasonable "time, place, and manner" restrictions. I think the Court of Appeals misunderstood the distinction in our cases between public property, such as city streets and parks, which has been historically treated as a "public forum," see Hague v. CIO, 307 U.S. 496 (1939), and public property, such as jails, military bases, and postal delivery boxes, which has been held not to be a public forum. See Adderley v. Florida, 385 U.S. 39, 87 S. Ct. 242 (1966); Greer v. Spock, 424 U.S. 828 (1976); United States Postal Service v. Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations, 453 U.S. 114 (1981). The decision of the Court of Appeals, mistakenly I believe, thus requires a hospital to promulgate a set of "regulations" which would provide for access to at least a part of its premises by such protest groups as respondents. To say that the deci-
sion severely limits the ability of public hospitals to devote their premises to the purpose of furnishing medical care to the sick would be an understatement.
Justice BLACKMUN would grant certiorari and give this case plenary consideration.
The Court of Appeals relied primarily on our decisions in Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, 394 U.S. 147 ( 1969), and Consolidated Edison Co. v. Public Service Commission, 447 U.S. 530 (1980). Neither one of these cases speaks to the issue here. Shuttlesworth involved the public streets of Birmingham, Alabama. Consolidated Edison represented no effort on the part of private individuals to obtain access to public property; as the Court in that case pointed out:
"Consolidated Edison has not asked to use the offices of the Commission as a forum from which to promulgate its views. Rather, it seeks merely to utilize its own billing envelopes to promulgate its views on controversial issues of public policy." 447 U.S., at 539- 540.
We have recently summarized the teachings of this Court's cases as to the kind of government property involved here in United States Postal Service v. Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations, supra:
"Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of any reason why this Court should treat a letterbox differently for First Amendment access purposes than it has in the past treated the military base in Greer v. Spock, 424 U.S. 828  (1976), the jail or prison in Adderley v. Florida, 385 U.S. 39 [d 149] (1966), and Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Union, 433 U.S. 119  (1977), or the advertising space made available in city rapid transit cars in Lehman v. City of Shaker Heights, 418 U.S. 298  (1974). In all these cases, this Court recognized that the First Amendment does not guarantee access to property simply because it is owned or controlled by the government." 453 U.S., at 129.
The Court of Appeals also expressed dissatisfaction with the " regulation" upon which the hospital had relied to exclude [459 U.S. 1052 , 1054]