Moving Words


Today the ACLU and the Drug Policy Alliance plan to announce a lawsuit challenging the federal ban on mass-transit ads critical of the war on drugs. They've got a good case: Federal courts generally have looked askance at content-based restrictions in the "public forum" of a transit system's ad space. In this case, ads in favor of drug prohibition are OK, but a transit system that accepted an ad "promoting the legalization or medical use" of a currently proscribed drug would lose federal money.

Last week Washington's Metro system refused to sell space for an ad sponsored by the ACLU, DPA, the Marijuana Policy Project, and Change the Climate. That rejection is the basis for the lawsuit.

Similar issues were raised in Change the Climate's battles with transit authorities leery of the group's ads. The Metro system had agreed to allow the messages after it was threatened with a First Amendment lawsuit. Clearly, federal money trumps the Constitution.