Lawyers for Raleigh-Durham International Airport have struck out after three attempts to have a federal judge consider new evidence they say would justify the airport’s long-standing ban on newspaper coin vending racks.
Now they’re getting ready for oral arguments Oct. 27 in Richmond, Va., where they will appeal a November 2008 ruling by U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle that the ban violates newspapers’ First Amendment right to distribute the news.
The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments from lawyers for the airport and for The News & Observer and three other newspaper companies that want to sell papers from coin boxes in the RDU passenger terminals.
Boyle refused in April and again last month to consider new evidence offered by RDU to bolster its argument that airport travelers have ample opportunity to buy newspapers from newsstands and bookstores. The Fourth Circuit rejected a similar request Thursday.
Airport officials contend that newspaper boxes would cause visual clutter, security risks and pedestrian traffic obstacles in the passenger terminals, and that they would reduce revenues for airport shops and the airport itself.
RDU also is appealing Boyle’s order to reimburse the newspapers for their legal expenses, which were pegged last spring at $200,000. In May, RDU said its own legal bills in the case had reached $400,000.
Boyle’s ruling against RDU was based on a 1993 decision by the Fourth Circuit appellate court. In that case, the Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., airport lost its effort to defend a ban on news racks.