Prior court ruling requires TriMet to take all ads regardless of content
Beginning today and running for about the next four weeks, the American Freedom Defense Initiative is running a controversial ad that will be posted on some TriMet vehicles. It is a pro-Israel ad that is counter to a recent ad featuring the headline “Palestinian Loss of Land”. It has also run in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Because of a 2008 court ruling, TriMet is required to accept all advertising on its vehicles, regardless of content.
“We want to let our riders and the public know that we’re disappointed our vehicles have become a medium for divisive discussion, but at this time, we have no other option except to allow the ad on our vehicles,” said Drew Blevins, TriMet Director of Marketing and Customer Information. “We support free speech, but we hope the Oregon Supreme Court will once again allow us to limit ads to only commercial goods and services.”
2008 court ruling
In the past, TriMet’s advertising policy had only allowed ads that were commercial in nature, defined by the promotion of goods or services. Non-commercial ads were not allowed, as the agency didn’t want to be required to accept all advertisements. A 2008 Multnomah County Circuit Court ruling concluded that TriMet’s ad policy could not limit the categories of advertising accepted.
The Oregon Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision. While TriMet supports the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions and the free speech they ensure, the agency has asked the Court to treat it like any other entrepreneurial advertising media and to allow the agency to make reasonable determinations as to the categories of advertising accepted. While awaiting the Court’s decision, TriMet is required to accept all advertising. TriMet uses advertising on buses and trains to create revenue for the agency.