The city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, rejected an ad for a pro-life health care referral service for its public buses because of “controversial issues” on the service’s web site.
The precise wording of the rejection was, “We feel that this ad does not educate the general public or raise awareness regarding a significant social issue in a viewpoint neutral manner. We do not choose to post this ad as a PSA.”
According to the city’s policy, the government has discretion to reject or remove ads it deems “objectionable.” The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADC) is representing the referral service. The plaintiffs contend the policy fails to set out any binding written guidelines for the government to follow, “thereby granting Citilink officials unbridled discretion to accept or reject private expression protected by the First Amendment.”
The referral service informs women about alternatives to killing their unborn babies. The service also refers women to OB/GYN, primary care, and mental health providers as well as housing information and other needs. The complaint (PDF) features images of accepted ads, including one for a state-sponsored insurance plan.
I share ADF’s and the plaintiff’s suspicions. I think the city of Fort Wayne is engaging in viewpoint discrimination. The person or group that rejected the ad either strongly supports abortion, or they’re worried about complaints from pro-abortion liberals.