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Lawsuit challenges free-expression restriction at airport

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A Fort Wayne man is suing the Allen County Airport Authority because he claims a recently enacted resolution severely restricts his ability to protest the new screening procedures implemented by the Transportation Security Administration.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the suit Jan. 20 on behalf of Paul Anthony Stanton in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana’s Fort Wayne Division. Stanton, a U.S. Army combat veteran, wants to hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution and other materials to travelers and passers-by in the Fort Wayne International Airport. But he claims a resolution enacted by the Fort Wayne – Allen County Airport Authority in November 2010 violates his and others’ First Amendment rights to free speech.

The resolution requires anyone who wants to distribute literature or solicit support at the airport to do so in a specific spot outside the airport terminal. Those who want to protest or hand out material must do so in the “free speech zone” only and must apply for a permit at least seven days before the planned activity. The application also has to disclose the content of the person’s speech. The executive director of the airport authority determines whether to approve a permit application.

Stanton wants to be able to hand out the literature inside the airport and believes that being regulated to the “free speech zone” will cause him to be missed by most people. He does not see being required to remain outside in the winter as a suitable alternative.

He also is concerned his permit application may be denied because he wants to protest the new airport screening measures. The suit alleges the resolution violates the First Amendment for several reasons, including that it's unconstitutionally broad, requires a group or person to disclose the subject matter of the proposed activity prior to engaging in it, and allows for the executive director to exercise “unbridled discretion” in deciding whether to deny or approve an application.

The suit, Paul Anthony Stanton v. Fort Wayne – Allen County Airport Authority, et al., No. 1:11-CV-30, seeks a preliminary injunction and permanent injunction preventing the airport authority from enforcing the resolution.

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  • well done
    ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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