ACLU, Library Settle Feud Over Display

FORT WAYNE – David Kolhoff will be able to “educate” the public about the federal health care law.

And he’ll be able to do it on the plaza of the Allen County Public Library after he and the library reached a compromise in a federal lawsuit Friday.

This month, the ACLU of Indiana, on behalf of Kolhoff, sued the library. They argued that his constitutional rights to free speech were violated when the library refused to let him set up a display on the plaza. He wanted the library to allow him to use the plaza or the Great Hall to set up his display.

Kolhoff, a semiretired attorney, believes the public is not educated enough about the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. So he wanted to provide the public with information at his display, which includes a bicycle, a small cart with banners and a laptop computer.

Until Friday, the library’s policies ban demonstrations and exhibits on the plaza. According to court documents, library officials have said Kolhoff could conduct his activities in one of the library’s meeting rooms for a program on the matter or produce a TV program and have it air on the library’s public-access television channel.

In paperwork filed with the U.S. District Court on Friday, both sides acknowledged they came to a settlement agreement, and the ACLU withdrew its request for a preliminary injunction.

The library’s executive director, Jeff Krull, said the matter is still under discussion, but in principle the two parties have agreed to move forward.

“Our attorney worked with him to come up with an approach that we think will fit both of our needs and desires,” Krull said. “We avoided the lawsuit and the hearing.”

Kolhoff said the library will let him be on the plaza with his bike, his cart and his signs, as long as he is to the northeast of the doors and away from the café area on the south end of the plaza.

“That was fine with me. I never wanted to get in anybody’s way or bother anybody,” he said.

He joked that it was too bad the resolution did not come a few days ago, when temperatures were in the 70s and the sun was shining.

“I’m sure that they weren’t timing it for the weather,” Kolhoff said. “I think I’ll try to get down there early next week before the rain comes … to see if anyone’s interested in learning about the affordable care act.”