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.


  • 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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.