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AFDI Lawsuit: Motion Asking Michigan Federal Court to Rule that Ban on “Leaving Islam” Bus Ad Violates the U.S. Constitution

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Here’s the latest on our lawsuit against SMART in Detroit. First a recap: back in 2009, Detroit Transit and SMART transit refused to run our AFDI ads. We sued, we won, and they appealed. SMART was refusing to run outreach ads that might help Muslims living in dangeorus households. You might think that the Muslim Brotherhood was running SMART Detroit. It is astounding. And consider Detroit’s bankruptcy, sharia adherence is more important than freedom of speech and fiscal responsibility.

The Sixth circuit heard the appeal and called our religious ads political, and so the case goes on. Back in may I was deposed for six hours by some profane blowhard hack attorney — all billable hours to fight an ad created to help Muslim girls excape honor violence. And the deposition was so hostile, you would think I committed a heinous crime. Apparently, blasphemy in America is.

Bottom line, everyone has the same right to a free life. And
for a government agency to use taxpayer dollars to do the bidding of
Islamic supremacists is highly treasonous.

Jessica Mokdad, an honor killing victim living in that area at the time, might have been saved. We know the ads have helped Muslims — they told us. The ads save lives.

AFLC Files Motion Asking Michigan Federal Court to Rule that Ban on “Leaving Islam” Bus Ad Violates the U.S. Constitution AFLC, August 16, 2013

Yesterday, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a motion for summary judgment
in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Michigan, asking the court to rule that the refusal of a Detroit-area
transportation authority to run a “Leaving Islam” advertisement on its
buses violated the U.S. Constitution.

AFLC’s
motion asks the court to enter judgment in favor of the sponsors of the
bus advertisement and against the Suburban Mobility Authority for
Regional Transportation (SMART), which refused to run the advertisement,
claiming that it was “political” and “scornful” toward Muslims in
violation of its advertising guidelines.

The advertisement at issue stated, “Fatwa on your head?  Is your family or community threatening you?  Leaving Islam?  Got questions?  Get Answers!” (See image below.)

AFLC’s
motion is part of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by AFLC
Co-Founders and Senior Counsel Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi on
behalf of the advertisement’s sponsors, the American Freedom Defense
Initiative (AFDI), and its executive directors, Pamela Geller and Robert
Spencer.

During
depositions taken in the case, SMART officials testified that
“political” for purposes of its advertising guidelines means “any
advocacy of a position of any politicized issue.”  In an effort to
explain this tautology (that “political” = politicized issue), the
officials further testified that “politicized” means “if society is
fractured on an issue and factions of society have taken up positions on
it that are not in agreement, it’s politicized.”

Muise
commented: “As the U.S. Supreme court has warned, the danger of
censorship and of abridgment of our precious First Amendment freedoms is
great where officials have unbridled discretion to determine which
messages are acceptable and which are not.  Indeed, a speech restriction
violates the First Amendment when it grants a public official such
broad discretion that the official’s decision to limit speech is not
constrained by objective criteria, but rests on ambiguous and subjective
reasons, as in this case.”

Despite
SMART’s claim that it uniformly rejects contentious “political”
advertisements, the evidence uncovered during the course of the
litigation revealed the opposite to be true.  Indeed, SMART accepted an
advertisement sponsored by the Detroit Area Coalition of Reason, an
atheist organization which, by its own admission, engages in “separation
of state and church activism”—a highly politicized issue.  That
advertisement stated, “Don’t Believe in God? You are not alone.”
(See image below).  In fact, the atheist advertisement was so
controversial that bus drivers for SMART refused to drive the buses
displaying it.

SMART
also accepted advertisements that advocate for sexual relations between
men.  One of the several advertisements of the “Status Sexy” campaign
accepted by SMART included a picture of a shirtless male in a sexually
provocative position with the caption, “Knowing your HIV status before you get down.  That’s SEXY.”  (See image below)

According
to an article linked on the statussexy.com website, “The ‘Status Sexy’
campaign uses images of attractive, shirtless men to convey its message
encouraging men who have sex with men to be tested for HIV.”

In light of the record evidence, AFLC argued in its brief filed with the court that

while
[SMART officials] contend that they have a constitutionally valid
“political” speech restriction, the undisputed facts demonstrate beyond
cavil that there is no such coherent “guideline.”  Rather, this
restriction is in effect and as applied an arbitrary, capricious, and
subjective ad hoc decision . . . .  [SMART’s] speech restriction, as
they define it, is based on whether the subject matter of the
advertisement is contentious.  But, as demonstrated in the record, even
that restriction is not applied coherently because it is not just
contentiousness; it is any viewpoint-based contentiousness that [SMART
officials] do not like.

As a
result, AFLC argued that SMART’s advertising guidelines, facially and
as applied to reject the “Leaving Islam” advertisement, violate the Free
Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment.

David
Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, concluded: “SMART
apparently has no problem disparaging people of faith, such as
Christians or Jews, or displaying lewd advertisements to a captive
audience that includes young children.  Yet, these same government
officials have the chutzpah to censor our client’s public service
message because it is allegedly ‘political’ and ‘scornful’ toward
Muslims.  Such discrimination is a blatant violation of our clients’
core freedoms protected by the Constitution.”

SMART will have 21 days to respond to AFLC’s motion.

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