Airports have been and continue to be the focus of considerable civic, religious, labor, and fund raising activities and a venue for commercial advertising.
A great deal has been written concerning the extent to which these activities are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. One TRB publication, TCRP Legal Research Digest 29, First Amendment Implications for Transit Facilities: Speech, Advertising, and Loitering, June 2009, contains a primer on first amendment analysis generally. TCRP LRD 29 contains a careful review of case law; much of which involves airports. While the publication provides an excellent discussion of First Amendment law, it does not focus specifically on the practices currently used by airports to regulate first amendment conduct in what is an increasingly congested and security-conscious environment.
Consequently, airport operators and legal practitioners would benefit from a more detailed and focused discussions of the various ways airports (through local regulation, ordinance, and statute) regulate first amendment conduct. Some airports, for example, follow a permitting process that allows officials some discretion in issuing permits and regulating first amendment activities on airport property. Other jurisdictions are much more specific. Alaska, for example, has enacted a very detailed regulatory scheme forbidding specific conduct that interferes with the “freedom of movement of a person, vehicle, or aircraft.” 17 AAC § 45.810 (Alaska Admin. Code). There are similar regulations applicable to Arizona’s Sky Harbor International Airport. Because it is unclear precisely how many airports have in place regulations applicable to first amendment activities, this project will be conducted in two phases: (1) an initial research and outline phase and (2) a synthesis and writing phase.