Army Told to Disband Bases

Salvation Army, that is.

In bell-ringer news this week, Target has announced it will no longer permit the Salvation Army to solicit donations in front of its chain of stores during the holiday season. While I feel that it's an unfortunate move by Target, it is, of course, a private business and it can dictate who can and cannot solicit on its property.

However, ironically, even Target itself doesn't fully understand this concept. Its website provides the following explanation:

We receive an increasing number of solicitation inquiries from nonprofit organizations and groups each year and determined that if we continue to allow the Salvation Army to solicit, then it opens the door to any other groups that wish to solicit our guests.
While some of our guests may welcome the opportunity to support their favorite charity or cause, allowing these organizations to solicit means that Target would also have to permit solicitation by organizations whose causes or behavior may be unacceptable to our guests.

Not necessarily.

Is Target within its rights to make any exceptions to their own rules as they deem fit? Are they obligated to "open the door to any other groups" to solicit donations on their property? There should be nothing wrong with simply stating that you have an agreement to allow one charity group to solicit donations on your own property, of your own choosing.

So, in sum, Target is defending its right of setting its own policy by claiming that it can't enforce its own policy. :dizzy:

Share this

It may be to thwart nuisance

It may be to thwart nuisance lawsuits (or threats thereof) about discrimination if they have a policy that, er, discriminates about who they will and will not allow in front of the door.

The state of the law is such that it is easier to adopt bright-line black/white distinctions (yes/no, allow all/disallow all) than to exercise judgement, because judgement calls are subject to potentially disastrously expensive lawsuits to justify.

I wonder if the law were changed such that the burden of proof of 'legally impermissable discrimination' was shifted onto the plaintiff (or, decisively so, ala criminal prosecutions (a 'beyond a reasonable doubt' threshold or something)) that you'd see more companies comfortable in making more deals with charitable/non-profit groups.

I can understand that you don't want a policy that would or could concievably *force* you to let viewpoints or groups the corporation disagrees with or disapproves of to stand in front of your spaces and allow guilt/aspersion-by-association to occur.

OTOH, it's more likely that Target is just being cynical and alluding to the above reasoning as a fig leaf for giving the Salvation Army the boot without having to look like someone exercising discretion (or for it to not seem as though they are anti-Salvation Army, even if they are).

I think this might be more a

I think this might be more a case of a badly-worded press release than a misunderstanding of the law. They likely meant they would feel a moral obligation to allow all charitable solicitors, not a legal one.

Good points. And as Brian

Good points. And as Brian pointed out, I'm sure there are quite a number of legal considerations that Target is trying to cover their hides on. (thus, I've edited my second-to-last paragraph as to not merely assume Target's "rights"... although I do feel they should be allowed to pick n' choose solicitors, if any). I had just found Target's response – 'if we let X charity solicit in front of our doors, we'd have to let 'em all in' – to be rather telling. Legal questions aside, I tend to view their offering/providing this service (donation collection) similar to deciding which products to place on their shelves, and should be left to the sole discretion of Target's management.

I'm not a lawyer, but I play

I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on the Internet.

I may have the details wrong, but I seem to recall that when I lived in New Jersey the state supreme court ruled against mall owners excluding people from leafletting in the mall. The court, using the state constitution's free speech clause opined that shopping malls were the new "town square" and that people's right to be able to hand out hand bills where there in a high traffic area trumped the property rights of mall owners.

I believe I also read somewhere that by allowing some amount of solicitation on your property, it allows union organizers the right to solicit on your property. So Target may feel they need to do this to block union activity.

The Salvation Army vs.

The Salvation Army vs. Target
Over at Catallarchy, they are discussing Target's decision to not allow the Salvation Army to have bell-ringers outside their stores. The whole thing reeks of worries about "discrimination" because Target doesn't allow others to solicit outside the...

James, Whoa, that is BEYOND


Whoa, that is BEYOND wacko! :shock: You don't happen to recall the names of the parties, or the town, or anything?

First, on a slightly

First, on a slightly off-note, Thank You, Target! Those incessant bell-ringing bastards have got to go. Okay, so, I lost respect for the Salvation Army a few years back, when I learned about the whole federal-funds-without-federal-rules scandal. Namely, the Salvation Army wanted to continue its discriminatory hiring policies (no homos, and in certain cases, no non-Christians), but it also wanted Federal monies. So they went through the backdoor, to born-again-Bush's backdoor, in fact, and Bush almost slid the shit through when they promised to support his faith-based initiatives, but the WaPo exposed it, and he was forced to withdraw the funds.

Now, please, feel free to discriminate against homosexuals and non-Christians all you want, but not on my dollar. And when you don't get your way, you don't get to try to bribe Bush by promising support for his agenda. Since then, SA gets none of my money, regardless of whether its helping people or not.

Not to mention the fact that they treat everyone like 4-year-olds (or dogs). RINGADINGADINGA GIMME SOME MONEY! right your face. Look, if I want to give you money, then I will do so. It's not like, suddenly, if you ring a bell in my face, I'm gonna change my mind. I'm not a goddamned trick dog! So, these days, I just slip them a piece of paper that says "if you stop ringing that damned bell, maybe next time, this will be money".

As for Target, well, Doug is right, they should be able to pick and choose who they want to stand outside their store; however, as others have noted, in this age of incessant victimism and frivolous litigation, you can't blame them for covering their ass from every direction.

Alex, I found this site that


I found this site that explains the issue further.

Basically the Supremes said that the 1st Amendement does not give leafletters the right to distribute on private shopping mall, but the states could interpret their own constitutions to allow this.

The site breaks down the current law in each state.

Here's the dope on New Jersey:

New Jersey: The New Jersey Supreme Court held in 1994 that the state constitution prohibits shopping malls from barring free speech activities. Regional shopping centers are the next logical place for free speech protection, the court said. However, the court only addressed the rights of leafletters, and said that mall owners have broad power to adopt regulations concerning time, place and manner of exercising the right of free speech. (New Jersey Coalition Against War in the Middle East v. JMB Realty)


Thanks for the link, James -

Thanks for the link, James - a veritable museum of bad logic, and thus, bad law (with a few exceptions, including GA, thank heavens)... it's "eminent domain" all over again. :no:

I had just found Target’s

I had just found Target’s response – ‘if we let X charity solicit in front of our doors, we’d have to let ‘em all in’ – to be rather telling. Legal questions aside, I tend to view their offering/providing this service (donation collection) similar to deciding which products to place on their shelves, and should be left to the sole discretion of Target’s management.

Except for the fact that spending time figuring out which products to place on the shelves is (potentially) productive. Target stand to make more money depending on the outcome of such deliberations. By contrast, management deciding which charities are acceptable, maintaining and reviewing this list and explaining such policy to the "refusees" is one massive unproductive pain in the ass which won't contribute one red cent to Target's bottom line. It is much quicker, easier and cheaper for them to enforce a no charities rule so long as they can avoid getting pinned with the Scrooge tag.

My suspicion is that

My suspicion is that Target's research indicated that customers were made to feel uncomfortable by the Salvation Army's requests for donations. Maybe those who don't donate feel guilty, and those who do feel as though they were guilted into making the donations? Anyhoo, I'm guessing further that Target feels as though the presence of the Salvation Army either drives customers away, or puts shoppers into a frame of mind such that they're likely to spend less money than they would otherwise. I think the discrimination explanation is a red herring, and done only to placate customers who'd be unsympathetic to their attempt at increasing profitability via the removal of the Salvation Army.

Any thoughts?


Nobody, I agree completely


I agree completely (besides, a lot of the people the Salvation Army uses as donation-collecters just plain freak me out anyway). And that's why I don't think it's accurate to say that differences in how you manage your relationship with charities and other local causes has no effect on the bottom line...