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D.C. group sues Port Authority for refusing to run nontheist ads

| Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 6:09 p.m.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County refused to run ads on its buses in 2011 for a Washington, D.C., group because of the viewpoint the ads expressed, the group says in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The United Coalition of Reason Inc., a national organization that helps local atheist, agnostic and other nontheist groups gain visibility, said the authority rejected an ad that said, “Don't believe in God? You are not alone,” and included the website of a local affiliate.

The authority rejected the ad based on a 1998 policy prohibiting noncommercial ads, but the authority has run ads from religious advertisers, public issue groups and hospitals soliciting volunteers for medical studies, the lawsuit says.

Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie declined comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters Education Fund successfully sued the authority in 2006 for refusing, on similar grounds, to run an ad informing convicted felons of their voting rights.

The authority paid the two groups about $1,800 in damages and $344,000 in attorney fees and legal costs.

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