A business has the right to decide what advertising it wants to run and does not want to run. However, public places do not always have the same luxury of deciding what can and cannot be advertised, as a recent Portland business just found out.
After losing another court battle, the Portland International Airport has agreed to run an ad that denounces clear-cutting. The ad features a barren mountainside and the words, "Welcome to Oregon, Home of the Clear-Cut." It also provides a link to a website for more information. The ad was created by a group called Oregon Wild, and with help from the Oregon ACLU, they have been pushing to get the ad displayed at PDX. The ad was intended to run on electronic billboards near escalators that bring people to the baggage claim.
The airport has been fighting against running the ads because they feel that running them would be a violation of the separation of church and state. A spokesperson for PDX stated that the airport refuses to display some ads because they do not want the public to assume that they support the message. Specifically, the airport has had a long-standing rule against running political or religious ads for that very reason. However, Oregon courts have disagreed.
In his decision, the judge who ruled that the ads should run stated that the airport's refusal to allow the ads went against the state's constitution regarding free speech. The judge also denied a stay that would have prohibited the running of the ad while the airport appealed the decision. The airport then relented and decided to allow the ads to run, but still plans to file a civil appeal regarding the decision.
The Oregonian, "Portland airport will accept anti-clear-cutting ad after losing another round in free-speech case" Jeff Mapes, Dec. 20, 2013