Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lehman v. City of Shaker Heights case brief

Lehman v. City of Shaker Heights case brief summary
418 U.S. 298 (1974)

Petitioner political candidate sought review of the decision of the Supreme Court of Ohio, which denied his petition for declaratory and injunctive relief in an action seeking to require a city transit system to accept his political advertisements for display in its vehicles.

The political candidate was denied access to place a campaign advertisement on the commercial "car cards" located on city transit vehicles. The city's transit system, by policy, did not permit any political advertising on its buses, although it had accepted advertisements from commercial establishments and public interest groups. In his action, the political candidate contended that, because the buses operated on public streets, the car cards they carried for advertising constituted a public forum protected by the First Amendment, and that there was a guarantee of nondiscriminatory access to such publicly owned and controlled areas of communication regardless of the primary purpose for which the area was dedicated.


  • In affirming the state court's ruling, the Court held that the nature of the forum and conflicting interests involved remained important in determining the degree of protection afforded by the Amendment to the speech in question. 
  • Noting that the transit system's car cards were part of a commercial venture in which the city was engaged and that the city had consciously limited access to the spaces, the Court found no First Amendment forum.
The Court affirmed the state court's judgment.

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