Tags: New York | MTA | Killing Jew ad

NY Transit System Bans Political Ads After 'Killing Jews' Ruling

Wednesday, 29 Apr 2015 01:45 PM

NEW YORK — The nation's largest mass transit system has banned all political advertising on its subways and buses after a judge ruled that a pro-Israel group was allowed to display an advertisement containing the phrase "Hamas Killing Jews" on New York City buses.

The resolution passed Wednesday at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board meeting.

The cash-strapped agency says such advertising only accounts for less than $1 million of its annual advertising revenue of $138 million. Officials say New York is following in the footsteps of cities including Chicago and Los Angeles, which have already banned political ads on public transit.

The judge said in a decision made public last week that the advertisement is protected speech. The MTA has argued that the ad could incite violence.

The ad from the American Freedom Defense Initiative portrays a man wearing a scarf around his face, with a quotation "Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah" attributed to "Hamas MTV," and below that, "That's His Jihad. What's yours?"

The group sued the MTA for rejecting the ad. Koeltl said that rejection violated the group's First Amendment rights because the MTA did not show the ad could incite terrorism or imminent violence, including against Jews.

In a letter last week, MTA lawyer Peter Sistrom said it was "beyond dispute" that the state-run authority could convert its property into a "limited public forum" that banned political ads, mooting the lawsuit.

He also said the proposed policy has been in the works for some time, and was not a "hasty reaction" to Koeltl's decision.

The MTA asked Koeltl to continue delaying enforcement of his preliminary injunction ordering it to run the ad, until the lawsuit could be dismissed.

"The notion that the MTA can moot a constitutional violation by changing its policy after the fact and wishing away the violation is absurd," said David Yerushalmi, a lawyer for the American Freedom Defense Initiative. He said the group's damages claim alone meant the case was not moot.

Lawyers said the proposed MTA policy might survive possible legal challenges, if it was not meant to target particular ads.

"Apart from streets, parks and sidewalks, the government as owners of space can restrict its speech uses as long as it does not engage in discrimination on the basis of point of view," said Frederick Schauer, a University of Virginia law professor.

Marci Hamilton, a professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, last week said: "Where the public transportation is open to all, there is a strong argument to designate a limited public forum to ensure a peaceful and efficient system aimed at getting the public to their destinations first and foremost."

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The nation's largest mass transit system has banned all political advertising on its subways and buses after a judge ruled that a pro-Israel group was allowed to display an advertisement containing the phrase "Hamas Killing Jews" on New York City buses.
New York, MTA, Killing Jew ad
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2015-45-29
Wednesday, 29 Apr 2015 01:45 PM
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