Lebron v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. 513 U.S. 374 (1995)

Author:Erwin Chemerinsky
Pages:1573-1574

Page 1573

In Lebron v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., the Supreme Court held that the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) must comply with the Constitution. Amtrak is a CORPORATION created by federal law, with a governing board appointed by the President, and it receives substantial federal funding. However, the statute creating Amtrak declares that it "will not be an agency or establishment of the United States government."

Michael Lebron signed a contract to display an advertisement on a huge billboard?about 103 feet long and 10 feet high?at Amtrak's Penn Station in New York City. Lebron's advertisement was a photomontage criticizing the Coors beer company's conservative political activities and especially its involvement in Central America. When Amtrak refused to allow display of the advertisement, Lebron sued, claiming infringement on his FIRST AMENDMENT right of FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

The Supreme Court ruled that Amtrak is the government for STATE ACTION purposes. Justice ANTONIN SCALIA, writing for the majority, declared: "We hold that where, as here, the Government creates a corporation by special law, for the furtherance of governmental objectives, and retains for itself permanent authority to appoint a majority of the directors of that corporation, the corporation is part of the Government for purposes of the First Amendment."

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