This article originally appeared in Censorship News Issue 125
Transit ads again
A decision from the federal appeals court in Chicago revisits the contentious issue of ads on public transportation. The case involves a policy in Fort Wayne, IN, against advertisements that “express or advocate opinions or positions upon political, religious or moral issues.”The ad in question promotes a “free resource for women seeking healthcare.” After discovering that the ad was sponsored by a pro-life health care provider, transportation officials rejected it. However, the court held that the “proposed ad lacks the faintest suggestion of a political, religious, or moral aim or agenda,” and ordered the city to accept the ad. Similar policies have come up in connection with ads linking Islam to terrorism, on which the courts are split.
Campaign finance again
New legislation in New York intended to “curb the power”of money in elections has been attacked on First Amendment grounds. The law imposes requirements on campaign expenditure for lobbyists and political consultants, while increasing penalties for those who flout the rules. However, the New York Civil Liberties Union and Citizens Union say the “clumsily” drafted law could impinge on education and advocacy by non-profits and chill First Amendment protected speech.