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,…

Fly Your Flag Proudly: Religious Displays on Public Property

So I missed this last week, but the Supreme Court has decided to hear Shurtleff v. City of Boston, a case brought by a Christian group that was denied permission by the City of Boston to fly its flag, which features a Latin Cross, on a flagpole at Boston City Hall.  According to the lawsuit, the City encourages private groups to fly their flags on the city flagpole, and over the course of twelve years had allowed over 280 groups to do so, including Juneteenth and LGBTQ-related flags.  But the group claims they were denied permission solely because their flag was religious.