May 19, 2005


CHICAGO -- All people and organizations will have the opportunity to hand out leaflets at public entry and exit points at Chicago's McCormick Place Convention Center, under the terms of a negotiated settlement agreement presented in federal court today. The settlement successfully concludes First Amendment litigation brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on behalf of two activists who sought to broaden their opportunity to effectively communicate with people attending conventions at McCormick Place.

"This agreement reinforces and protects one of our most critical constitutional values: free speech on matters of public concern in public places," said Adam Schwartz of the ACLU of Illinois.

The lawsuit was filed in September 2003 on behalf of Katherine Albrecht, a consumer rights advocate who sought to express her objections about a privacy-invading product-labeling technology known as "Radio Frequency Identification" or RFID, to visitors to a technology convention at McCormick Place. The lawsuit was joined in May 2004 by Dr. Quinten Young, a universal health care advocate who sought to express his views to visitors to a McCormick Place convention of health care professionals. McCormick Place is considered the nation's premier convention facility, hosting more than four million visitors each year. It is regularly the site for business, professional, educational and governmental events.

"Hopefully, this settlement agreement will not only ensure free speech at McCormick Place, but will also serve as a model and thereby promote free speech at other large convention centers across the country," said Albrecht.

"The import of McCormick Place in the economic and political life of Chicago and the nation is obvious," said Bill Gibbons of the Chicago office of Latham & Watkins, who assisted the ACLU in this litigation. "We are pleased that the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority has agreed to ensure leafleting outside all the public doors into McCormick Place -- fostering critical discussion about important issues."

The settlement in the case is available online at /node/34987.


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