The complaint was filed back in October by conservative radio host Dennis Prager, who operates a YouTube channel called PragerU. He claimed that YouTube is biased against his “political identity and viewpoint” for placing age restrictions and refusing to run some ads on his videos, which cover issues such as abortion and climate change.
Prager said YouTube stopped the ads appearing in some videos without “compelling, significant, or legitimate reason,” arguing that because Google runs the video site as a public forum, its content is covered by the First Amendment. He cited the 1945 case of Marsh vs Alabama, which involved a Jehovah’s Witness distributing leaflets in a town owned entirely by a private corporation. In that case, the high court ordered the corporation to run the town in compliance with the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh disagreed with his comparison. She cited the 1972 Supreme Court case of Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner, which ruled that a privately-owned mall could ban people from distributing literature against the Vietnam War on its grounds.
Koh writes that she "is not convinced that Marsh can be extended to support Plaintiff’s contention that Defendants should be treated as state actors subject to First Amendment scrutiny merely because they hold out and operate their private property as a forum for expression of diverse points of view."
While the judge has dismissed the complaint, Prager is free to file an amended version within 30 days of Monday’s ruling if he wants to try his chances again.