A government-run public transportation company violated the U.S. Constitution when it refused to accept a pro-life organization’s ad showing pictures of unborn babies from ultrasounds, a new lawsuit alleges.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit Monday against CityBus -- which serves Lafayette and West Lafayette, Ind. – after the company rejected an ad from Tippecanoe County Right to Life (TCRTL), a local pro-life organization. CityBus said the proposed ad expressed a “political viewpoint” in violation of the advertising policy.
The ad showed three pictures: two of a baby from an ultrasound and one picture of a newborn baby. Superimposed over the photos are the words, “ME,” “ME AGAIN” and “STILL ME.”
CityBus violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment and the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, the suit says.
“An unborn baby’s humanity is a scientific fact, but even debatable ‘political viewpoints’ can’t be silenced by government officials whenever they dislike them,” said ADF legal counsel Samuel Green. “When the government creates an opportunity for advertising on countless topics, it cannot unreasonably single out life-affirming, educational messages for censorship. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all people, regardless of their beliefs.”
CityBus previously had accepted ads encouraging people to “pump some democracy” and “to file your free complaint of housing discrimination.” It also had allowed an ad declaring a “healthcare crisis in Indiana.”
“By rejecting TCRTL’s educational ad while accepting other educational ads and ads that are explicitly political, CityBus violated TCRTL’s constitutional rights and discriminated against TCRTL by denying it equal access to CityBus’s advertising forum,” the suit says.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com
Publication Date: July 24, 2018
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