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Hare Krishnas lose in court

Fri., March 26, 2010

Group can’t seek money at airports

SAN FRANCISCO – The state 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 passengers rushing to make travel connections at the airport known as LAX.

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 is barred from receiving cash and checks on airport property.

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.

A U.S. district judge 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.

The Krishnas’ lawyer, David Liberman, said no further appeals appear possible. “It’s pretty conclusive and it doesn’t look like there are any loopholes,” he said. “As far as I can tell, it’s over.”


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