I reported an article in this week's news section about TriMet swapping ad space for poetry, but didn't have the room to discuss much about a significant legal case TriMet is battling in court right now. Until last year, TriMet's ad policy banned any sort of political or advocacy ad, arguing that their buses and trains aren't exactly public forums, but places where all riders should be made to feel comfortable. But then the California Native American tribe responsible for the ad above filed suit against TriMet, saying that the public transit agency's refusal to run their dam ad violates the first amendment.
A judge agreed with the tribe, declaring in Karuk Tribe v. TriMet that TriMet cannot deny any ad because of its content. TriMet is appealing the decision, but for now it's sticking with the judge's orders to allow political ads. As we head into election season, that could mean we'll see a lot more political campaign ads on buses and MAX.
I'm all for free speech, but I'm a little worried what will happen when some neonazi or right to life group gets wind of the policy change. Will I soon be spending an entire bus ride up MLK staring at a dead fetus? I have yet to see any groups really capitalize on the new political ad space, except for that group which raised a stink last year with their "A tax on bikes?!" ad.