A Chicago fair housing group has sued groundbreaking Web site Craigslist for allegedly publishing discriminatory advertisements, a case that could test the legal liabilities of online ad venues. The suit is part of an emerging attempt by housing watchdogs nationally to hold online classified sites to the same strict standards as the publishers of print classifieds, such as newspapers…
The [Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law], a public interest consortium of the city’s leading law firms, said in a federal suit that those ads discriminated on race, religion, sex, family status or national origin. Among the ads cited in the suit: “Non-women of Color NEED NOT APPLY”; “African Americans and Arabians tend to clash with me so that won’t work out”; and “Requirements: Clean Godly Christian Male.”
Eric Goldman share my puzzlement and notes a similar case:
Roommate.com was sued under the exact same law for exactly the same behavior and won an easy victory under 47 USC 230. The Roommate.com case is on appeal, so perhaps the appellate court will see things differently. Otherwise, I don’t understand the thinking of plaintiffs–particularly a group of lawyers–who bring lawsuits like this in the face of a clear federal exculpatory statute and directly-on-point adverse precedent.
Seems to me that free expression should be valued everywhere, and that suits like this should lead us to rethink the rules governing newspapers.
I wish the folks who brought the suit had experienced Craigslist– or listened to Chris Lydon’s show– before going to court.