Ann Arbor Bus System Censors Controversial Ad

July 19, 2013

For years the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) allowed advocacy organizations, churches and political candidates to advertise on the outside panels of the bus. However, when a local Palestinian rights activist submitted a “Boycott Israel” ad, the AATA refused to run it.

The ACLU of Michigan wrote a letter to the AATA stating that once a government agency creates a forum for advocacy ads, it cannot deny an ad simply because it is controversial or because some might find it offensive. When the AATA still refused to run the ad, the ACLU filed a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court. In 2012 Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled that AATA’s advertising policy was unconstitutional and that AATA had violated the activist’s First Amendment rights by rejecting his ad.

The case settled in July 2013 after AATA adopted a new advertising policy.

(Coleman v. Ann Arbor Transportation Authority; ACLU Attorneys Dan Korobkin, Rick Haberman and Michael J. Steinberg.)

To view the full 2013-2014 Legal Docket, click here.

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