Supreme Court won’t hear case on transit district ban of religious ads

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case brought by the Catholic church against a Washington, D.C. transit district ban of a reoligious ad on its buses. A lower court ruling for the district rested on a concession by the plaintiff that the ad space on buses was not a public forum. Justice Neil Gorsuch dissented, “The one thing it the transit district] cannot do is what it did here—permit a subject sure to inspire religious views, one that even WMATA admits is ‘half’ religious in nature, and then suppress those views. The First Amendment requires governments to protect religious viewpoints, not single them out for silencing.” (Courthouse News Service, April 6, 2020, by Megan Mineiro)

The district rejected the church’s Christmas ad. The district said in its defense of the rejection, “WMATA [the transit district] is entitled under the First Amendment to adopt viewpoint-neutral subject matter limitations to govern advertising in its transit system. WMATA’s policy is neutral on its face and neutral in its application, and therefore entirely lawful as the court of appeals correctly held.” (The Hill, April 6, 2020, by Harper Neidig)

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