Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ann Arbor Concedes Narrow View of Public Accommodation

Last week, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan settled a suit brought by a conservative political consulting and marketing firm challenging the city's attempt to apply its public accommodation law to the firm. Ann Arbor Code § 9:151(22) defines a public accommodation as including:
[A] business or other facility of any kind, whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations are extended, offered, sold or otherwise made available to the public....
The Stipulated Dismissal (full text) in ThinkRight Strategies, LLC v. City of Ann Arbor, (ED MI, filed 9/5/2019), asserts that:
While ThinkRight advertises to and receives requests for its services from the general public, ThinkRight will not fulfill any request if doing so involves promoting messages, views, policies, platforms, or causes contrary to ThinkRight’s conservative or religious principles.
The city of Ann Arbor conceded:
Ann Arbor does not consider ThinkRight to be a place of public accommodation as defined by Ann Arbor Code § 9:151(22).That is because ThinkRight will only provide its services in ways that promote, or are not contrary to, its conservative political beliefs and therefore limits the platforms, views, policies, causes, events, or messages it will convey or promote through its services.
ADF issued a press release announcing the settlement.