Greetings and salutations, SDMB-folk.
I’ve been lurking around here for years, and found much enlightenment on these pages. (OK, I confess, I always read The Pit first. Doesn’t everybody?) Normally, there’s already a conversation going about most everything I have questions about, so I’m content to just read along and live vicariously. But I’m currently engaged in this debate on another board, and I need some help from you guys, the Smartest People on Earth (or anyone else who’d like to jump in, for that matter).
According to this story in The Washington Times, advertisements advocating the legalization of cannabis will soon be placed in ten Metro subway stations by a nonprofit group, Change the Climate, Inc. (Metro reserves 10 percent of its advertising space for nonprofit groups.)
DC council member Jim Graham is quoted as saying, “These ads are intolerable, and we need to review our policies so that First Amendment considerations are not allowed to compel us to accept this type of advertising.”
Given that Metro does reserve advertising for other nonprofit groups, does Change the Climate, Inc. indeed have a First Amendment argument?
My esteemed colleague contends that the First Amendment does not confer the right to use public property for ‘free speech’, that it only limits the ability of Congress to make laws abridging free speech, and so does not apply in this case.
It seems to me that the DC city council, by making policy governing public advertisement, has taken upon itself the mantle of ‘the (local) congress’. It should therefore follow the same principles governing the US Congress, and ‘make no law…abridging the freedom of speech’, especially given the specific reservation for nonprofit groups already in place. (Is this a defendable position, or should I abandon it in favor of…what?)
Your opinions in support of either position would be greatly appreciated.
On a more personal note, I think that councilman Graham’s comment just reeks to high heaven of self-serving selectiveness. ‘Intolerable’? Uh huh.