Update: On Sept. 14, 2020, the Third Circuit issued a precedential opinion in Center for Investigative Reporting v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, holding that two provisions of SEPTA’s advertising policy violate the First Amendment because they are incapable of reasoned application. The Court therefore reversed and instructed the district court to grant declaratory relief and issue a permanent injunction preventing SEPTA from enforcing the challenged provisions to exclude the Center for Investigative Reporting’s advertisement.
The Reporters Committee and 20 media organizations filed an amicus brief in Center for Investigative Reporting v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA). The case concerns SEPTA’s advertising policy prohibiting advertisements that espouse a viewpoint on political, economic, social, historical, or religious issues. Under the policy, SEPTA rejected CIR’s advertisement promoting CIR’s reporting on racial disparities in mortgage lending. The district court struck down the policy as-written, but ordered SEPTA to amend the policy and upheld the amended policy as constitutional. CIR appealed to the Third Circuit. The amicus brief argues that the SEPTA policy could prohibit advertisements by not just CIR, but other news media, that the SEPTA policy is unreasonable, unconstitutionally vague, and tantamount to a heckler’s veto.