Federal Judge Rejects Government Ban on Transit Ads

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman of Washington, D.C., ruled that a federal ban on advertisements promoting the legalization or medical use of an illegal drug is unconstitutional, saying it violates freedom-of-speech rights, the San Francisco Chronicle reported June 3.

The ruling was made in a lawsuit filed by civil-liberties and medical-marijuana advocates after ads promoting the legalization of marijuana were refused by a District of Columbia public-transit agency. Under a law passed by Congress, transit systems that allow such advertising would forfeit federal funds.

“The government has articulated no legitimate state interest in the suppression of this particular speech other than the fact that it disapproves of the message, an illegitimate and constitutionally impermissible reason,” Friedman said. The judge also barred the federal government from punishing agencies that run the ads.

The ruling could be appealed by the White House.