Lawsuit challenges free-expression restriction at airport

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.


  • 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.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  2. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  3. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.

  4. While if true this auto dealer should be held liable, where was the BMV in all of this? How is it that the dealer was able to get "clean" titles to these vehicles in order to sell them to unsuspecting consumers?

  5. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless [ ] Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. GOD BLESS THE GOVERNORS RESISTING! Count on the gutless judiciary to tie our children down and facilitate the swords being drawn across their throats. Wake Up America ...