L.A. airport barred from limiting Hare Krishna solicitors

A federal judge barred Los Angeles International Airport from enforcing its new solicitation ordinance against members of the Hare Krishna religious group, which claims the law is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall granted a restraining order Jan. 17 and will hold a hearing on the ordinance next month, said David Liberman, attorney for the Krishnas Los Angeles chapter, which sought the order.

Maybe now (the airport will) sit down and ask us for input into the situation that’s acceptable to our First Amendment needs but also to their concerns, Liberman said.

LAX spokeswoman Nancy Castles said the airport will continue enforcing the ordinance against everyone except the Krishnas.

Judge Consuelo Marshall did not rule on the merits of the case nor did she hold the ordinance to be unconstitutional, Castles said.

The law, which took effect Dec. 16, requires solicitors to apply for 30-day permits that specify when and where they can seek donations. Solicitors are barred from singing, chanting, dancing and shouting. Violations are misdemeanors punishable by fines up to $500.

The Krishnas argue that the law violates the First Amendment and California’s Liberty of Speech clause.

LAX officials say the law is needed because solicitors are annoying, distracting and increase congestion.