Menorahs One, Sacred Sheep Zero: The Eleventh Circuit rules that a ban on religious advertising in public transit is unconstitutional

by Chris Gilbert, Thompson & Horton LLP

In Young Israel of Tampa, Inc. v. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, 89 F.4th 1337 (11th Cir. 2024), the Eleventh Circuit was asked to consider whether a ban on advertisements that “primarily promote a religious faith or religious organization” in mass transit advertising violates the First Amendment.  An Orthodox Jewish synagogue wished to post an advertisement featuring both a menorah and what looks like a dancing dreidel in the Tampa, Florida metro system for a “Chanukah on Ice” program, but the transit authority rejected it under its prohibition on religious advertisements.  Both the trial court and the court of appeals found that the decision violated the First Amendment, although for slightly different reasons.

So why did I find this case interesting?  Well, partially because in 2018, the D.C. Circuit was faced with the exact same case,…