SEPTA Sued for Banning Ads About Housing Discrimination

By Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA—Banning ads about controversial issues is a violation of free-speech rights – that’s the claim of a lawsuit filed against the nation’s sixth largest public transit system.

The Center for Investigative Reporting has compiled data showing racial disparities in home mortgage lending in 61 American cities, including Philadelphia. But when it sought to highlight the results with an ad campaign, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority refused to display the ads on its trains and busses.

Molly Tack-Hooper, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, says SEPTA’s policies banning ads on political and controversial social issues turn the First Amendment on its head.

Listen to a broadcast report about the lawsuit.

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The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.