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Published On: Wed, Jun 8th, 2011

Virginia man, Jack Faw, told he couldn’t display “Campaign for Liberty” sticker on car at Kings Mountain National Military Park

Kings Mountain National Military Park has promised to respect visitors’ free speech rights after a man says he was told to leave the park over a car decal promoting presidential candidate Ron Paul’s political group.

Jack Faw, a 73-year-old Virginia resident whose ancestors fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain, claims that park ranger Eugene Rife told him he couldn’t display a 3-foot-long Campaign for Liberty decal on the rear window of his car when he visited the park May 6. Erin Broadbent, the park superintendent, called the incident an unfortunate misunderstanding.

“Mr. Faw was never asked to leave the park,” Broadbent said Wednesday. “The ranger just wanted to make sure that Mr. Faw was not going to be soliciting. This was just a total misunderstanding. It had absolutely nothing to do with the political stance at all.”

Broadbent said Faw wasn’t distributing political literature and, to park staff’s knowledge, had no fliers or handouts. She acknowledged that petition drives and other political expression are permitted in some areas of national parks.

The Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville, Va.-based civil liberties organization, wrote Broadbent a May 20 letter explaining that Faw’s display of the decal is speech protected by the First Amendment and is allowed under National Park Service regulations.

“It is our hope that you will do everything in your power to ensure that this incident is not repeated and that Mr. Faw, a frequent visitor to Kings Mountain National Military Park, is not restricted from exercising his constitutional right to free expression by park employees,” wrote John Whitehead, the institute’s founder and president.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE INSTITUTE’S LETTER

In her reply to the Rutherford Institute, Broadbent expressed regret that Faw felt his political expression had been censored and said the park is committed to upholding visitors’ First Amendment rights.

“I want to assure you and Mr. Faw that we take his constitutional right of the freedom of expression seriously, and have taken steps to ensure this experience is not repeated,” Broadbent wrote.

She added that the park was “planning a refresher training session for the entire staff on this matter.”

CLICK HERE TO READ BROADBENT’S RESPONSE

The Campaign for Liberty is a lobbying group that promotes individual freedom, constitutional limits on government power, a currency system backed by precious metals and noninterventionist foreign policy, according to its website. It was founded by Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas congressman and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Government agencies are rarely able to regulate the display of political stickers and decals. In April 2010, a federal judge in North Carolina ruled that the commander of Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in Jacksonville, violated a civilian employee’s First Amendment rights by banning the display of anti-Islamic bumper stickers on his car.

Source: The Star Online

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- Stories transferred over from The Desk of Brian where the original author was not determined and the content is still of interest of Dispatch readers.

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