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Jenner & Block secured a preliminary injunction against the Chicago Transit Authority in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of the Firm’s client, the Entertainment Software Association, in a case involving the CTA’s ban of advertisements for mature-content video games on its trains, buses and facilities. In January 2009, the ESA filed a complaint alleging that the CTA violated the ESA’s First Amendment rights after CTA implemented an ordinance prohibiting video game advertisements rated Mature (M) or Adults Only (AO).
According to the order, “the CTA singled out for prohibition all advertising references to a solitary class of product -- mature and adult video games, which (unlike alcohol and tobacco) are themselves forms of protected speech and which are legal for people of all ages to purchase.” The court held that CTA’s advertising guidelines restrict speech in a public forum that is otherwise open to all speakers without a compelling interest to do so and discriminates against certain speakers on the basis of viewpoint. Accordingly, the court found that, “while the CTA would likely be entitled to enforce such a ban were it serving solely as the proprietor of its own non-public forum, it cannot do so in a forum that this Circuit has explicitly found to be a designated public forum for free expression.”
“This ruling is a win for Chicago’s citizens, the video game industry and above all, the First Amendment,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA. “It is our hope that the CTA sees the futility of pursing this case further. To do so will waste taxpayer money and government resources.”
The Jenner & Block team representing ESA is Partner Paul M. Smith, Katherine A. Fallow, Duane Pozza, and Associate Rochelle P. Lundy.
Please click here to view the court's ruling