Would this have been a 1st Amendment issue?

I recently went to my local newspaper and put in an ad for a rental apartment. The twist was that I wanted to write my ad in spanish. There was a whole issue and it wasn’t decided until the last moment whether or not they would allow a spanish ad. (they allowed it)

So my question is:

If there isn’t a specific law prohibiting my ad, and it says the exact same thing as other ads they publish in english, do they have the right to refuse the ad?

As my bonus question:

If this isn’t a 1st amendment issue, does it get covered under some other law?

Nope. Not a First Amendment issue at all. The First Amendment applies only to the government. The newspaper can, if they feel like it, ban the word “purple” from all classified ads, and it’s perfectly legal.

Sure they can ban the word “purple” if they wanted to, but can they let you say purple and randomly not allow me to?

Or…more importantly…Can they allow you to use “purple” and bar me from using “pupura?”

…of course I spelled better in the ad:)



The fisrt amendment, like the next nine, does not constrain any private entity in any manner at all. It only defines which powers are forbidden to be exercised by the government.

And, just to prove that I can’t spell either:

fisrt = first


Could someone explain to me what a public accomodation is and if it applies to a local newspaper that solicits ads from the general public?

Do they have other ads in Spanish?


That’s the real question here. If they wish, yes.


Depends. The newspaper can, for instance, not take political ads. But if it does, then it has to take them from both sides.

Might their issue have been that no one in the office spoke Spanish, so they didn’t know what the ad said?

A “public accommodation” is something like an inn that provides a very valuable service to random people. Back in the early days of the law (and still today) they had a higher burden to help people out than the average schmoe. For example, if you were travelling on foot and came to the only inn for thirty miles around, if you weren’t allowed to stay there you might be robbed on the road, freeze in the snow, or any number of things from inconvience to death. The same thing if the blacksmith wouldn’t shoe your horse, the tavern wouldn’t serve you any food, etc. I don’t think that a newspaper is typically considered a public accommodation, but depending on the circumstances you might be able to make a case for it.