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PI: Metro Doesn't Have to Run Anti-Israel Ads

By Erica C. Barnett February 18, 2011

A federal judge in Seattle has rejected a group’s attempt to force King County to run ads on Metro buses that were critical of Israel, saying the space was a “limited” public forum and therefore not subject to full First Amendment protections.

The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union had sued the county after it approved then rejected ads that said “Israeli War Crimes Your Tax Dollars At Work.” The groups said the county’s action violated the Constitution and sought a preliminary injunction to force the county to allow the ads.

Judge Richard A. Jones denied that request late Friday. He said the county has a Metro bus advertising policy that is restrictive, which indicates its intention not to have a free-for-all of messages on the side of its buses.

“Because King County’s policy and practice indicates that it consistently applied content restrictions on advertising to further its purpose of using its property to provide orderly and safe public transportation, the forum at issue is a limited public forum,” Jones wrote (click here to read the decision).

In a statement just now, ACLU spokesman Doug Honig said the ACLU "will proceed with a lawsuit on behalf of the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, seeking to have King County honor its contract to carry the Campaign’s approved ad on Metro buses. The action came after a federal judge denied a request for a preliminary injunction to have the ad run."

When the controversy blew up in December, Josh wrote a no-brainer editorial saying King County screwed up by not running the ad.
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