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Cuccinelli: Tourist fliers get little free speech protection

The publisher of a magazine promoting Virginia tourist attractions cannot avoid a state fee at highway rest areas by wrapping itself in the First Amendment, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says.

Under a cost-cutting initiative from Gov. Bob McDonnell, the Virginia Department of Transportation has started charging a fee for allowing tourist fliers to be distributed at Interstate rest areas. One company questioned whether that fee was a violation of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.

Not so, Cuccinelli said in a March 1 official opinion. Reviewing case law on the subject, Cuccinelli concurred with one court’s opinion that an Interstate rest area is a “non-public forum” where access can be controlled and fees can be charged.