ACLU Says Metro Ban on Political Ads Is "Illegal"


The story implies that they are in trouble because they accepted the ads, then changed their policy. Is that any more illegal than if they'd had a discriminatory policy in the first place? If not, how will their non-commercial ad policy fare under the law?
Frankly it sounds like they are sitting on a gold mine if they accept these ads, and the two counter campaigns, and the counter campaigns to the counter campaigns... Maybe free speech could actually be profitable?
So, commercial ads are acceptable to them? They'd accept an ad from Glock for their new handgun? Betcha they wouldn't.
I don't want ads about Israel/Palestine on buses or any ads that are extremely likely to anger people to the point of interfering with service or just making people's commute to work/school miserable with their yelling and fist-shaking.
How about they just run an anti-smoking campaign all the time, which might pay for itself in reduced health costs. Or other useful public service message.
God damn, I love me the ACLU. And I have to ask, Cienna, why the need for quotes around "Israeli War Crimes" at the top of the 3rd paragraph? This may seem nitpicky, but they read like scare quotes to me, and even if they aren't and it's just an innocent-until-proven-guilty thing, I fail to see the need for them since pretty much every humanitarian group & int'l inquiry under the sun agrees that Israel has commited war crimes against the Palestinians.
Fuck every single person who believes in the fairytales of religion.
They'll also have to ban all non-comercial ads INSIDE the bus. Especially the ones that advertise "Free Pregnancy Clinics", which are often run by Pro-Life people that give out misleading medical information.
So I suppose then that ads on Metro for ex-gay therapy would be just fine with the ACLU. Ridiculous. Metro has the perogative to approve or dissaprove ads as it sees it. This is not about free speech, it's about commerce. The ACLU sucks big time.
The line "Our lawyers are sharpening their knives" is ghoulish. I'm surprised to hear such an inappropriate comment from an organization as measured as the ACLU.

Of course, any private institution can run or pull any ad they want for any reason. Metro, as a government agency, has to abide by free speech but free speech cases are pretty hard to win. The argument that the ads would disrupt transit or provoke anti-semitic violence both sound like ones that have successfully trumped the first amendment in the past.

(and isn't it spelled Millionair Club?)
@9: Thank you. Your second paragraph is more accurate than what I said.
A win-win situation here would be for KC Metro to accept ads for $$, and for bus passengers to continue zoning out by yapping at high volume on their phones at the back of the bus, cranking their personal music players at high volume so people without ear plugs can hear fuzz or bass seven rows away, and making use of their public libraries by reading books.

I'd rather have the print ads above the seats and some $$ coming into Metro, than a television monitor with sound on the bus, like some Southern California transit companies have. Someone who can't filter out ideas they find offensive, in an environment of info overload, needs attention refocusing.
Cienna - I believe you are incorrect. You should double-check your notes:

"The ads triggered a national outcry that included at least 500 calls and emails to King County Metro..."

There's no way they only received 500. You've left off at least one zero, maybe two.
@8: The ACLU is very consistent in defending the right of speech without regard to the message. If an ex-gay group was being denied the right to advertise because Metro didn't agree with the message you can bet they'd get involved.
Convenient how an imaginary risk of anti-Semitic violence is being used to justify the cover-up of actual violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank.

Also, sad to see our local political machinery complicit in war crimes, however tangentially.
@13: I'm not so sure. I can't think of any right-wing, anti-gay clients they've taken on (thank goodness - but that's beside the point). Like any legal advocacy organization, they triage their workload.
@13 is right--the ACLU has gotten in hot water before campaigning for the right of the American Nazi Party to peacefully assemble for parades and other activities. They have balls, and nobody will agree with who they are advocating for 100% of the time, but they always fall on the side of free speech, and other rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
Yeah, they support the rights guaranteed by the constitution, alright. Except for the ones they don't agree with.
O.K. Change the policy. Let the ads run (out). Do not renew the ad contract.

Is this too simple for the county to handle? Apparently. But then, Metro can't even figure out how to run buses in the snow (it's not rocket science).
@17, they protect all the rights ones not already under the protection of the NRA.

They've even fought for the Westboro Baptist Church to protest veterans' funerals (not saying I endorse either action, just saying they did it). I am fairly sure they are not full of people who are right-wing or Evangelical, but they fought for their speech rights anyway, (and won).

The ACLU is consistent, sometimes even when it is politically risky (would've been very easy to say "No" to WBC, after all).

That's all the reason they are advocating for these bus signs, even though it will upset a lot of people. They stick to their convictions.
The ACLU started off as a fine and principled organization, but it's morphed into an abrasive in-your-face political correctness to the point of tyranny. My beef with them (and it's strictly personal, and doesn't stand up to debate) is that they've ruined Christmas. I adored the nativity scenes in plazas as a little girl even though our family was mostly agnostic. I find it reprehensible that the ACLU threatens towns and schools with lawsuits if they don't remove every speck of Jesus.
@14 I wouldn't call the 2006 shooting at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle imaginary, and likely prompting the increased sensitivity around the issue.
@20, you are full of shit:

" The ACLU of Rhode Island (2003) interceded on behalf of an interdenominational group of carolers who were told they could not sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve to inmates at the women's prison in Cranston, Rhode Island.
The ACLU of Virginia (1999) represented Rita Warren and her right to erect a crèche on Fairfax County government space that had been set aside as a public forum. The ACLU argued that restricting the use of the public forum to county residents only was an unreasonable restriction. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.
The ACLU of Massachusetts (1996) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on behalf of two women who were fired for refusing, on religious grounds, to work at a racetrack on Christmas Day.
The ACLU of Massachusetts (2003) intervened on behalf of a group of students at Westfield High School who were suspended for distributing candy canes and a religious message in school. The ACLU succeeded in having the suspensions revoked and filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a lawsuit brought on behalf of the students against the school district.
The ACLU of Massachusetts (2002) filed a brief supporting the right of the Church of the Good News to run ads criticizing the secularization of Christmas and promoting Christianity as the "one true religion." The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority had refused to allow the paid advertisements to be posted and refused to sell additional advertising space to the church.
For other ACLU cases defending the free exercise of religion, see"…
@21, I wasn't here in 2006, but one tragic incident four years ago does not justify censoring ads that tell the truth about the deaths of thousands, and the massive military and political apparatus that supports it.

I also doubt anybody back then advocated for the cover-up of that shooting on the grounds that it would incite "Anti-Muslim" actions.
@21 & I wouldn't call pointing out the continued war crimes committed against Palestinians in anyway directly responsible for the 2006 shooting at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle.

The problem isn't anti-semitism, the problem is idiots not realizing there's a fucking huge difference betwixt being anti-semitic and not endorsing a government that commits war crimes with the help of our tax dollars.
Can you imagine the gall of people that think they can censor American's free speech criticisms of another government. Dow Constantine should be ashamed. I'm sorry I voted for him.

Wow, you sure are misinformed and full of shit.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit to support the Westboro Baptist Church's freedom to protest with their "God Hates Fags" message near churches for the funerals of military veterans:…

The ACLU defends hateful right-wing speech all the time. They also famously defended the right of a group of Neo-Nazis to protest in Skokie Illinois. And the ACLU defended a Virginia student's rights to protest the ACLU at a football game.


Your bullshit ignorance continues, the ACLU regularly fights for the right to display religious scenes and information, including Christmas trees, and nativity scenes:

Nativity Scene:…

Christmas Tree:…

Christian Prayer:…

Here is a long list of cases and stories where the ACLU regularly fights for the rights of Christians to express Christian faith at all times of the year, including at Christmas. It's why I support the ACLU.

It's sad, but most people who hate the ACLU don't actually know anything about what the ACLU does. Clearly, you are in just such a category of grotesque ignorance.
^ The link I left out of the list of quite a few cases (though not all) that the ACLU has taken up for the rights of Christians:
Israel has not committed war crimes. Hamas has committed far worse atrocities, hides behind children and places armed men and weapons in homes and mosques.

But that is besides the point.

I think that perhaps they made a mistake. Let the bus ads run so that the divisive, counter-productive ads will be drowned in a sea of pro-Israel and pro-peace ads.
@22, @26: Well, I stand corrected then. Now, you can apolgize for calling me full of shit.
@29 Lol, they can, but since they just both demonstrated that you were full of shit, why would they apologize for making accurate statements?
@9: Actually, courts generally do not allow governments to restrict the content of speech because of its emotional impact on the audience. Check out the Supreme Court's opinion in Boos v. Barry (U.S. 1988) for more. We don't want to make speech subject to a "heckler's veto" (i.e., we don't allow governments to curb speech just because its content is offensive to bottle-throwers or worse sorts of people).

And, for what it's worth, there is a 1974 Supreme Court case called Lehman v. City of Shaker Heights that basically says that a city can ban "political" ads on buses while permitting purely commercial ads. It's a weirdly-reasoned case, though, so it might come out differently today. I guarantee it'll be cited heavily in both parties' briefs, should it come to litigatin'.
I must have missed the part where refusing to carry an advertisement was redefined as censorship by the Supreme Court.