WASHINGTON — A lawyer for the City of Los Angeles today urged the Supreme Court to let public airports ban religious groups from distributing literature in passenger terminals.
Attorney James R. Kapel told the justices the city-run airport is not like a city sidewalk or park, and should be able to exclude activities not related to the airport's operation.
"An airport is not a traditional public forum," Kapel said.
A group known as Jews for Jesus is challenging the constitutionality of a Los Angeles International Airport policy barring the group's members from distributing leaflets.
The Constitution's First Amendment prohibits government restrictions on freedom of speech and the practice of religion, the group says.
Justice Thurgood Marshall asked Kapel, "What right do you have to stop it? You're singling out one group of people. . . . You're singling out a group you don't want to use your facility."