Attorney Sues Library for First Amendment Violation

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
October 5, 2012 12:00 am

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Indianapolis – An attorney who seeks to educate the public about the federal healthcare law on a large public plaza filed a lawsuit today against the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne for preventing him from exercising his First Amendment right of free expression.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed suit on behalf of David J. Kolhoff in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana challenging the library’s policy of not permitting his expressive activity on the plaza.

“The right of people to engage in free expression on public property, which is not disruptive, is protected by the First Amendment,” said ACLU of Indiana Staff Attorney Gavin M. Rose. “Mr. Kolhoff only wishes to use this highly visible public gathering space to offer himself as an educational resource and to teach others about the intricacies of the federal health care law.”

Kolhoff, who believes the public is misinformed about the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, contacted the library in September to inquire about setting up his educational activity and was told of the library’s policy. The activity includes some small banners and a mobile cart with a laptop computer. The library uses the same plaza during the summer months to put on musical performances.

Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director said, “The First Amendment specifically prohibits abridging the freedom of speech, and these rights of free expression cannot be restricted without a legitimate reason. Given the broad use of the library’s public spaces, we don’t believe it can sincerely assert that Mr. Kolhoff’s educational activity would be disruptive.”

The suit, David J. Kolhoff v. Allen County Public Library, which seeks injunctive and declaratory relief and nominal damages, was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana under cause number 1:12-cv-00349-JD-RBC.

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