Amalgamated Transit Union v. Spokane Transit Authority, No. 17-35955 (9th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for the union in an action challenging the STA's decision not to run a proposed advertisement from the union on STA's buses. The panel held that the STA rejected the proposed ad in violation of the union's First Amendment rights, and declined to adopt the First and Sixth Circuit's approach of giving deference to a transit agency's application of its advertising policy. The panel designated a transit agency's advertising program to be limited public forums because the panel recognized the legitimate concerns with transportation services and safety.
Applying the three-part test to review STA's decision to exclude the union's ad under "public issue" advertising, the panel held that the policy was reasonable in light of the forum; STA's standard lacked objective criteria to provide guideposts for determining what constitutes prohibited "public issue" advertising; and STA's application of its "public issue" advertising ban to exclude the union's proposed ad was unreasonable. Finally, the panel held that STA unreasonably applied its commercial and promotional advertising policy to reject ATU's ad.