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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. Uh oh, someone is really going to get their panti ... uh, um ... I mean get upset now: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/31/arkansas-passes-indiana-style-religious-freedom-bill

  2. Bryan, stop insulting the Swedes by comparing them to the American oligarchs. Otherwise your point is well taken.

  3. Sociologist of religion Peter Berger once said that the US is a “nation of Indians ruled by Swedes.” He meant an irreligious elite ruling a religious people, as that Sweden is the world’s least religious country and India the most religious. The idea is that American social elites tend to be much less religious than just about everyone else in the country. If this is true, it helps explain the controversy raking Indiana over Hollywood, San Fran, NYC, academia and downtown Indy hot coals. Nevermind logic, nevermind it is just the 1993 fed bill did, forget the Founders, abandon of historic dedication to religious liberty. The Swedes rule. You cannot argue with elitists. They have the power, they will use the power, sit down and shut up or feel the power. I know firsthand, having been dealt blows from the elite's high and mighty hands often as a mere religious plebe.

  4. I need helping gaining custody of my 5 and 1 year old from my alcoholic girlfriend. This should be an easy case for any lawyer to win... I've just never had the courage to take her that far. She has a record of public intox and other things. She has no job and no where to live othe than with me. But after 5 years of trying to help her with her bad habit, she has put our kids in danger by driving after drinking with them... She got detained yesterday and the police chief released my kids to me from the police station. I live paycheck to paycheck and Im under alot of stress dealing with this situation. Can anyone please help?

  5. The more a state tries to force people to associate, who don't like each other and simply want to lead separate lives, the more that state invalidates itself....... This conflict has shown clearly that the advocates of "tolerance" are themselves intolerant, the advocates of "diversity" intend to inflict themselves on an unwilling majority by force if necessary, until that people complies and relents and allows itself to be made homogenous with the politically correct preferences of the diversity-lobbies. Let's clearly understand, this is force versus force and democracy has nothing to do with this. Democracy is a false god in the first place, even if it is a valid ideal for politics, but it is becoming ever more just an empty slogan that just suckers a bunch of cattle into paying their taxes and volunteering for stupid wars.

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