Attorney says library violating free speech
The Associated Press October 6, 2012 5:48PM
Updated: November 8, 2012 12:21PM
FORT WAYNE — An Indiana attorney is suing a public library for refusing to allow him to use its plaza for a demonstration against the federal health care law.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit against the Allen County Public Library Friday in federal court in Fort Wayne.
Attorney David J. Kolhoff’s complaint claims a library policy banning demonstrations and exhibits on the plaza violates his First Amendment right to free speech.
“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,” ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Jane Henegar said in a statement.
Court documents said officials offered to let Kolhoff use a library meeting room or air a program on the library’s public access television channel.
“We do provide ample opportunities for people to convey their views,” library Director Jeffrey Krull said.
The ACLU said Kolhoff would be willing to accept the library’s offer to use its Great Hall, but would prefer the outdoor plaza.
The other options “will not permit him to reach the same number of persons or his intended audience in the manner of his choosing,” ACLU attorney Gavin Rose argued in court documents.
Kolhoff believes library patrons would be more likely to listen, Rose wrote.
But Krull said officials haven’t allowed such activities in the past and don’t want anyone approaching patrons as they arrive or depart.
“We have not regarded the plaza as a place for just anybody to set up shop and demonstrate,” Krull said.