Last December, we reported on a federal district court’s denial of a motion for preliminary injunction relating to the Archdiocese of Washington’s unsuccessful efforts to post Christmas-season advertising on transit vehicles owned and operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Unfortunately for the Archdiocese, Christmas did not come in July either. Last week, the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed the denial of preliminary injunctive relief.
The facts of the case are available on our post regarding the district court’s decision.
On appeal, the appellate court (which included as a panelist Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh) agreed with the district court. First, the court agreed that the advertising space on WMATA transit vehicles constitutes a non-public forum, where the government can exercise greater control over content yet must adhere to requirements of viewpoint neutrality and reasonableness. In so ruling, the D.C. Circuit joins a majority of federal appeals courts that have now ruled that transit advertising spaces are non-public fora.