- Brian Chilson
- SHULZE: Answers questions after the hearing.
Federal District Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled Thursday that Central Arkansas Transit Authority and its advertising agency, On the Move Advertising, had violated the free speech of a group of atheists by refusing to sell them advertising on CATA buses except under restrictions not imposed on other advertisers. The principal restriction was the requirement of a $36,000 bond, supposedly to cover damage that vandals might inflict on CATA buses.
At the end of a full-day hearing, Wright said there was no doubt that CATA and the ad agency had colluded to deny First Amendment rights to the United Coalition of Reason. CATA and the agency had contended that the agency was a private contractor selling space on CATA buses, and therefore there was no state involvement and no violation of the First Amendment. Wright ordered them to sell ads to Coalitiion of Reason under the same terms that are given to other advertisers. EXCEPT, she said that a $15,000 bond could be required, because she thought this was a reasonable amount for the risk involved, and she believed the Coalition could pay it easily. She told the Coalition’s lawyer, J. G. “Gerry” Shulze of Little Rock, that if the Coalition believed the $15,000 bond was still a restraint on free speech, he could come back and try to convince her. Shulze said he’d talk with Coalition heqdquarters in Washington.