Barefoot man loses lawsuit against Columbus Library

October 11, 2003

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal appeals court yesterday rejected a man's lawsuit against the Columbus Metropolitan Library and its administrators after he was asked to leave because he was barefoot.

Robert A. Neinast of Pickerington said his constitutional right to receive information had been infringed by the policy that he could not use the library without wearing shoes. Neinast said he regularly goes barefoot.

The requirement that shoes be worn does not directly affect Neinast's right under the First Amendment to receive information, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

"In this case, as long as Neinast wears shoes, he may receive information in the library," Judge Julia Smith Gibbons wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

The appeals court affirmed U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley's March 2002 ruling that library officials are within their authority to require patrons to wear shoes. The requirement legitimately promotes public health and safety, both courts ruled.

Neinast was asked several times between 1997 and 2001 to leave the Columbus library for being barefoot.

Copyright © 2005, The Columbus Dispatch