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Heffron v. International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
452 U.S. 640 (1981)


The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. (ISKCON) (plaintiff) sought to freely distribute literature and solicit funds at the 1977 Minnesota State Fair without renting a booth. Rules established by the Minnesota State Agricultural Society Board of Managers (defendant) allowed anyone to walk around the fair talking or proselytizing to people freely, but handing out literature or soliciting funds required a rented booth. ISKCON argued that the booth rule violated their First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion. Specifically, ISKCON argued that the rule suppressed the practice of Sankirtan, a religious ritual requiring ISKCON members to distribute or sell religious literature and solicit donations in public places. The trial court upheld the booth rule as constitutional based on the state’s interest in providing everyone equal access and preventing congestion on the fairgrounds. On appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed, reasoning that the booth rule infringed ISKCON’s right to practice Sankirtan, and that a less-restrictive rule granting ISKCON an exemption would protect the state’s interests. The Minnesota fair officials appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Brennan, J.)

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