Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 19, 2012

Determination by AG was right call for Ligonier legion


THE GOSHEN NEWS

— Where there was smoke, there was fire — or a least a pending court case.

Earlier this year, members of American Legion Post 243 in Ligonier filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of Indiana. The legal action was prompted by the Legislature-sanctioned statewide “smoking ban.”



The measure has proven to be controversial, and it was certainly so at the Ligonier post. The Alcohol and Tobacco Commission weighed in that if the post was open to the public at all, which it occasionally is, the smoking ban applied at all times.

Post members cried foul, feeling certain provisions of the law were unconstitutional. They feared the post would have to close its doors, or dramatically alter its operations. Lawyers were involved. It all could have gotten messy.

Ultimately, that wasn’t to be.



The Indiana Attorney General’s Office this week indicated the post is only a “public place” when the general public is allowed to walk through the door.

“While Post 243 periodically hosts public fundraisers for the benefit of local charities, it typically functions as a private, members-only club,” legal counsel for the post pointed out to the press. So most of the time, the smoking plan doesn’t apply.

In light of this development, post officials have moved to dismiss the lawsuit.



Count this newspaper in favor of the Attorney General’s finding, and the response by American Legion Post officials.

That’s not to say we’re fans of smoking. It’s a potentially lethal habit for smokers themselves as well as second-hand inhalers; the science supporting this holds up under scrutiny.

Nonetheless, we also support the right of smokers — Ligonier Legion Post members included — to chart the course of their personal health in a facility that functions, legally, as a sort of home away from home.



The Goshen News feels the Attorney General’s finding respects the right of individual liberty in Ligonier. We also think that, in affirming the ban when the general public is involved, state officials are rightly not turning a blind eye to public safety.

Lastly, we appreciate the Legion’s attorney comments to the effect that post members are dismissing the lawsuit “to allow the Court to devote its time and resources to other important matters.”

Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em if that’s your choice, people of the American Legion Post. It’s time to move on.