Monday, March 15, 2010

Airport Newsrack Ban Unconstitutional, 4th Cir. Rules

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Copies of USA T...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has affirmed a trial judge's grant of summary judgment to newspaper publishers who challenged a newsrack ban imposed by the Raleigh-Durham (N.C.) Airport Authority.

In The News and Observer Publishing Co., The Durham Herald Co., The New York Times Co. & Gannett Co., Inc. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority (Case No. 5:04-cv-00639), the appellate court rejected the public airport's ban on newspaper racks inside its terminals as violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The airport cited aesthetics, preserving revenue, preventing congestion, and security as the reasons for prohibiting newsracks.

The appellate court said newsracks pose no greater risk of harboring explosive devices than do other airport fixtures, such as trash cans and bathrooms.  The 4th Circuit decision reinforces established case law holding that the 1st Amendment not only protects the content of newspapers, but also the distribution of publications against government interference.

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