Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School Dist., 508 U.S. 384, 7 (1993)

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Opinion of the Court

nizations similar to Lamb's Chapel for religious purposes, the District Court held that the denial in this case was viewpoint neutral and, hence, not a violation of the Freedom of Speech Clause. Ibid. The District Court also rejected the assertion by the Church that denying its application demonstrated a hostility to religion and advancement of nonreligion not justified under the Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment. 736 F. Supp. 1247, 1253 (1990).

The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the District Court "in all respects." 959 F. 2d 381, 389 (CA2 1992). It held that the school property, when not in use for school purposes, was neither a traditional nor a designated public forum; rather, it was a limited public forum open only for designated purposes, a classification that "allows it to remain non-public except as to specified uses." Id., at 386. The court observed that exclusions in such a forum need only be reasonable and viewpoint neutral, ibid., and ruled that denying access to the Church for the purpose of showing its film did not violate this standard. Because the holding below was questionable under our decisions, we granted the petition for certiorari, 506 U. S. 813 (1992), which in principal part challenged the holding below as contrary to the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.4


There is no question that the District, like the private owner of property, may legally preserve the property under its control for the use to which it is dedicated. Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense & Ed. Fund, Inc., 473 U. S. 788, 800 (1985); Perry Ed. Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U. S. 37, 46 (1983); Postal Service v. Council of Green-4 The petition also presses the claim by the Church, rejected by both courts below, that the rejection of its application to exhibit its film series violated the Establishment Clause because it and Rule 7's categorical refusal to permit District property to be used for religious purposes demonstrate hostility to religion. Because we reverse on another ground, we need not decide what merit this submission might have.

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