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Illinois Dunesland Preservation Socy' v. Illinois Dep't of Natural Resources

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20233
Nos. No. 09-1535, (7th Cir., 10/14/2009)

The Seventh Circuit affirmed a lower court decision dismissing a citizen group's 42 U.S.C. §1983 action against state park officials for refusing to include in the park's display racks pamphlets warning of asbestos in the park. A park is a traditional public forum, and thus the park authorities cannot impose unreasonable barriers to using open public space to convey ideas and opinions. But there has been no showing that they've tried to do this. Displaying the pamphlets may risk the appearance of endorsing an opinion that the officials do not believe. And if they were to display their own pamphlet countering the group's pamphlet, this would have the effect of giving it legitimacy, which the officials are not obligated to acknowledge. Further, the denial of rack space has not closed off the only good avenue that the group has for reaching the patrons of the state park with its message as no special permit or license is required to hand out pamphlets to park visitors.