Philly area transit agency being sued for denying ad space

Lawyers for an investigative reporting organization are suing the Philadelphia region's main transit agency after it refused to run ads about the group's stories on racial disparities in mortgage lending.

The American Civil Liberties Union, along with co-counsel representing the Center for Investigative Reporting, filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority officials violated the center's free speech rights. SEPTA denied the center's request to buy bus ads showing its findings.

A SEPTA spokeswoman said the agency did not have an immediate comment Wednesday.

SEPTA increased its advertising restrictions to prohibit political speech or speech causing public debate after a 2015 lawsuit over the agency's refusal to run ads it deemed anti-Islamic. A federal judge ruled the agency must run those ads.

The Associated Press independently reviewed and confirmed the center's story on mortgage lending disparities.

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