Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Court Upholds Bus Company's Rejection of Pro-Life Referral Ads

In Women's Health Link, Inc. v. Fort Wayne Public Transportation Corp., (ND IN, Jan. 5, 2016), an Indiana federal district court upheld a decision by Citilink (Ft. Wayne's public bus service) to reject an ad from Women's Health Link, a pro-life health care referral service.  Citilink makes space available for public service announcements from non-profit organizations, but only if they do not express or advocate opinions on political, religious, or moral issues. The court held that Citilink maintains its advertising space as a "non-public forum".  According to the court:
The evidence doesn’t support Women’s Health Link’s contention that Citilink allowed comparable advertisements that address the same or similar topics but advocate a non-life-affirming position....
The reasonableness of the restrictions depends on the purpose of the forum.  In this case, the stated purpose was maximizing revenue, keeping the cost of riding the bus down, protecting Citilink’s passengers from the risk of imposing on a captive audience, and avoiding any “endorsement, implied or otherwise” of the product, service or message. The restrictions on political, religious, and moral speech serve that purpose and are reasonable under the circumstances.
ADF issued a press release reacting to the decision