Home » News » Christian group wins First Amendment case involving its transit ads

By The Free Speech Center, published on May 23, 2024

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Photo courtesy iStock: frederic prochasson

The Washington, D.C., transit authority’s rejection of a Christian nonprofit group’s ads violated the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled May 21, Courthouse News Service reported.

WallBuilders, a Christian group based in Texas, submitted two advertisements to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in December 2023. They depicted famous paintings of scenes illustrating the religious faith of the nation’s Founders. Accompanying text read, “Christian? To find out about the faith of our Founders, go to wallbuilders.com.”

WMATA denied placement of the campaign in the city’s subways and buses, citing guidelines barring ads that try to influence the public on issues where there are “varying opinions.” The authority also invoked a guideline against promoting or opposing any religion or belief.

District Judge Beryl Howell took issue especially with the first guideline, “specifically its vague language and the transit authority’s seeming lack of consistency in applying it,” according to Courthouse News Service.

“While buses, trains and Metro stations count as a nonpublic forum — a standard that provides the most flexibility for government regulations of speech compared to traditional and designated public forums — the group argued the restrictions are not viewpoint-neutral and are unreasonable,” the news service reported. (See Public Forum Doctrine.)

See the article. 

See also: Richmond Transit ban on political ads violates First Amendment, 4th Circuit rules

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