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AFDI and ACLU Sue D.C. Metro For First Amendment Violations Over ‘Geller Ban’ on Ads

23

It is good to see an uber-left organization such as the ACLU, historically aligned with the jihad force, taking up a key fight for us in defense of our First Amendment freedoms. Although I am sure you know that they are not doing it for us. But their uber-left pet causes have been affected by the “Geller ban.”

In every major city where we have sued and won to get out ads in defense of freedom up, the city’s response to our free speech victory has been to ban all political ad issue-related ads. This new form of censorship came to be known as the Geller Ban.

If the ACLU or AFDI lawsuit(s) prevail, then every city that has enacted the “Geller ban” can be challenged, New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, Denver etc.

We have moved forward with our D.C. lawsuit. On July 24, our legal team, AFLC, filed our opening brief in the DC Circuit court in our lawsuit against Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Read it here:
Opening Brief–Filed

American Freedom Defense Init, et al v. WMATA, et al “Appellant/Petitioner Brief Filed by Pamela Geller on Scribd

 

Metro banned issue ads after activist Pamela Geller, whose American Freedom Defense Initiative, has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, tried to get ads featuring caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad on Metro buses and inside rail stations.

ACLU Says Metro Violates First Amendment Over Issue Ad Ban

By Martin DiCaro, WaMu, August 10,2017:

ACLU Says Metro Violates First Amendment Over Issue Ad Ban

Notice how these cowards don’t run the ad that actually initiated the ban. Ours.

Although we had wrangled with WMATA before.In 2012, we won a similar lawsuit against the WMATA over an ad that portrayed Adolph Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini, alongside the text: “Staunch ally, the leader of the Muslim world.” The ad also contained the text: “Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Qura

The American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. is suing Metro over its ban on all issue-oriented ads on buses, trains, and inside rail stations, claiming the ban violates the First Amendment.

The lawsuit was prompted by the transit authority’s recent decisions to reject or pull ads it said violated its ban on advertising “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions.”

In early July, Metro pulled ads for a new book by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. The D.C. ACLU is representing him in its lawsuit as well as groups on the other side of the ideological spectrum that had ads rejected by Metro: the women’s health collective Carafem and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as well as the national ACLU. The ACLU’s rejected ads displayed the text of the First Amendment in English, Spanish, and Arabic.

“It’s not workable because that ignores the facts the commercial advertisements that they do run also take positions on issues that people have opinions about,” Arthur Spitzer, the ACLU of D.C.’s legal director, said of Metro’s ban on issue ads. “They are willing to take ads for hamburgers and fur coats and pretty much anything you want to sell, but they are not willing to take an ad to make somebody think.”

In a statement, Metro said it is not backing down.

In 2015, WMATA’s Board of Directors changed its advertising forum to a nonpublic forum and adopted commercial advertising guidelines that prohibit issue-oriented ads, including political, religious and advocacy ads. WMATA intends to vigorously defend its commercial advertising guidelines, which are reasonable and view-point neutral.

Metro banned issue ads after activist Pamela Geller, whose American Freedom Defense Initiative, has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, tried to get ads featuring caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad on Metro buses and inside rail stations.

In Islam, images of the Prophet are prohibited, and a cartoon-drawing contest Geller held in Texas provoked a shooting there; she wanted to feature the winning cartoon in her Metro ads.

Mort Downey, the chairman of the Metro board at the time, said he pushed for the ban to prevent any safety threat to Metro passengers, a concern that overrode his support of free speech.

“I have no problem with that, if it doesn’t lead you to the position where somebody who doesn’t like the ad is going to start shooting at the buses,” the now retired Downey said in an interview.

He intended for the ban to be temporary to provide time to produce a “more nuanced” policy.

“At the time it was the only quick course of action we could take,” Downey said. “Put the ban in place, and six months to a year come back with a more nuanced solution, but such as solution does not seem to have materialized.” Downey, 81, left the Metro board in 2016.

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