Lawsuit questions long running tradition

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) - A Massachusetts supermarket chain is being sued by a political candidate.  22News looks at why the case questions a long running tradition.

It’s common to be greeted outside a grocery store by a charity group or organizations looking to raise money.  And for decades politicians have used the space to gather nomination or ballot question signatures, which some people in West Springfield told 22News they’re fine with.

“It wouldn’t bother me, because I just, they’re doing they’re job.  To get what you want in life, if that’s what you have to do, that’s what you got to do,” Maria Janeczek, of West Springfield, told 22News.

Thomas Burke, also from West Springfield, told 22News it doesn’t bother him when candidates petition for his signature outside a store.  He said, “doesn’t matter.  They got to do what they got to do.”

But in one week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments in a case that has a political candidate, Steven Glovsky, suing the Roche Brothers supermarket chain.

The court will be asked to decide whether the supermarket should have allowed teh candidate to gather nomination signatures outside their store …or if they violated his constitutional rights by rejecting his request to do so.

Supermarket parking lots are technically private property, but the case is questioning whether or not they’ve taken the place old traditional down towns, as the new public gathering spaces.

“People go to shopping centers for a whole variety of things, but they’re privately owned and so the owners can, do, ban political speech and things like that,” Sean Rairigh, from Springfield, said.

The supermarket being sued is arguing that their privately owned property is not meant for public forum.

A superior court judge dismissed the lawsuit once before, but it’s since been appealed.  The case will be heard February 3rd.

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