Lawsuit Claims ATF’s Unlawful Retaliation for Free Speech

October 2, 2008

Brandon Hensler, Director of Communications, (786) 363-2737 or

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida received an early victory in Kilpatrick v. U.S. today when Senior Federal Judge Lacey A. Collier denied the ATF’s motions for summary judgment in the case. The ACLU filed the case on April 18, 2006, on behalf of Karen J. Kilpatrick, who claimed that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) violated her Free Speech rights.

Kilpatrick was driving her blue van in Pensacola on April 19, 2004, with the slogans “Remember the Children of Waco” and “Boo ATF” written on some of the windows when she was pulled over by police for questioning by the ATF. The ACLU argues in the lawsuit that her First Amendment Rights to Free Speech and her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure were violated when officers detained her for an hour, searched her car without consent, and ordered her to remove the writing on the side of her van.

“The ATF’s actions were unconstitutional and there was no legal justification to stop and question Ms. Kilpatrick. We believe that the ATF was trying to silence Ms. Kilpatrick and the 911 call substantiates this position,” said Bert Oram, ACLU cooperating counsel. “We are confident that we can win this case once the facts are demonstrated and we are pleased that we will be able to make our case in court.”

Counsel for Kilpatrick v. The United States of America are Bert Oram, ACLU cooperating attorney; and Benjamin Stevenson, ACLU of Florida staff attorney in Pensacola.

The audio file of the 911 call can be heard at: and a PDF copy of today’s Order on Summary Judgment can be viewed at:

About the ACLU of Florida
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida is freedom's watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For additional information, visit our Web site at:

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2008 Press Releases