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Dozens of televisions display a political advertisement supporting Texas Governor Rick Perry at the American furniture electronics and appliances store December 27, 2011 in Urbandale, Iowa.
A recent decision handed down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals now makes it legal for public radio and TV stations to air political ads.
The case dates back a decade to when the Federal Communications Commission fined Minority Television Project, the operator of the San Francisco TV station KMTP, for carrying promotional messages from companies like Chevrolet and State Farm.
According to Judge Carlos T. Bea, who wrote the main opinion on Thursday, Minority Television Project argued that a federal statute prohibiting ads on public stations violated the First Amendment "because its restriction on advertising was not narrowly tailored to the government's interest in preserving the educational programs on public broadcast stations."
The court ruled on Thursday, agreeing that the ban on political ads was unconstitutional. However, it did uphold the ban on ads for "goods and services by for-profit entities."
Kathleen Hall Jamieson is director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.