Supreme Court Rejects Petition for AFDI’s Writ of Certiorari for Free Speech Case

The Supreme Court declined to take up our free speech case against Washington Metropolitan transit. It was expected. We filed petition for writ of certiorari (A type of writ, meant for rare use, by which an appellate court decides to review a case at its discretion.   A writ of certiorari orders a lower court to deliver its record in a case so that the higher court may review it. ). It was denied.

Preeminent lawyer, Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center explains:

“This important First Amendment case is far from over. It is likely that the Supreme Court denied review because the D.C. Circuit reversed, in part, the lower court’s ruling in WMATA’s favor on whether its rejection of AFDI’s ad was ‘reasonable’ under the First Amendment in light of recent precedent, remanding the case back to the district court for its opinion on the issue. We argued that the high court should take up the case regardless because the issue was a legal one. However, the Supreme Court typically wants to hear the views of the lower courts on an issue before deciding it. Consequently, if we don’t prevail on the ‘reasonableness’ issue in the district court, we will file another appeal to the D.C. Circuit and then petition the Supreme Court once again if necessary.”

We prevailed in part in the D.C. Circuit on whether the rejection of our free speech ad was reasonable. The case was remanded back down for that determination but then stayed because the Archdiocese case was working its way up to SCOTUS (as noted in the ad). So rather than waiting for the Archdiocese case (which is a Paul Clement case—former Solicitor General—so there is a likelihood the Court will grant it), we filed a cert petition on our and similar claims since the case was stayed. The Court denied our petition. So we have to wait for the Archdiocese case to work its way through the system until the stay in our case is lifted.

Every major city has instituted the Geller ban on free speech.

WMATA originally rejected the ads because the ad copy “advocates free speech and does not try to sell you a commercial product” in violation of WMATA’s advertising guideline prohibiting “[a]dvertisements intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions.”

WMATA now claims that the ads also violate its guideline prohibiting “[a]dvertisements that support or oppose any religion, religious practice or belief.”

AFLC contends that both guidelines are unlawful viewpoint-based restrictions.

The district court upheld the speech restrictions, and AFLC appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The D.C. Circuit reversed, in part, the adverse ruling and remanded the case for the district court to determine whether WMATA’s rejection of the ads was “reasonable.”

In its ruling, however, the circuit court affirmed that WMATA’s advertising space was a nonpublic forum and that its speech restrictions were viewpoint neutral.

Note Hill headline. “Anti–Muslim” because I defend freedom and oppose jihad and sharia.

Supreme Court rejects anti-Muslim group’s challenge to DC Metro ads ban

By Jacqueline Thomsen, The Hill, June 3, 2019:

The Supreme Court has declined to take up the case of an anti-Muslim group that sought to run ads depicting the Prophet Muhammad on public transit in Washington, D.C.

The justices, in an unsigned order issued Monday, rejected the request from the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) to hear their case over the ads, which they asked to be displayed on the D.C. Metro system. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled AFDI as an anti-Muslim hate group.

AFDI has labeled SPLC a hate group.

The ad submitted by the group featured the phrase “Support Free Speech” and then an image of Muhammad, the winning picture of an art contest sponsored by the group.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) quickly issued a ban on “issue-oriented” ads in 2015 after receiving the submissions, and later rejected the ads.

Sharia enforcement.

AFDI, led by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Gellar [sic], argued that the WMATA’s ad space was a public forum and was protected under the First Amendment right to free speech, and that rejecting their ads was also unconstitutional.

WMATA is facing another legal challenge over the issue-oriented ads ban from the Archdiocese of Washington, which sought to run religious-themed ads on the D.C. Metro.

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last year in favor of WMATA’s ad policy, finding that the Metro system was a non-public forum.

The Supreme Court is now weighing whether it should take up that case.

The National Review’s take:

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge brought against the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) ban on subway and bus “issue oriented” advertisements, which was instituted in response to a proposed ad depicting the prophet Muhammad.

The Court issued an unsigned order Monday declining to take up the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s (AFDI) request that the justices intervene to protect its free-speech rights. AFDI, led by activist Pamela Gellar, submitted an ad to WMATA in 2015 that read “Support Free Speech” above an image of the prophet Muhammad that was chosen from a group of submissions entered into their “Draw Muhammad” contest.

In response, WMATA banned all “issue oriented” ads and rejected the AFDI’s submission.

AFDI held an event associated with the “Draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas in May 2015. The gathering, which organizers claimed was intended to serve as a defense of free speech, made national news after two gunmen opened fire on police outside the venue. The gunmen were the only fatalities.

WMATA is also facing another challenge to the ad policy leveled by the Archdiocese of Washington, which tried and failed to run religious ads on the Metro. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in WMATA’s favor in that case last year and the Supreme Court is now considering whether it will take up the Archdiocese’s appeal.

In a similar case brought in 2012, a federal judge required New York and Washington, D.C. transit authorities to accept an ad that read: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” AFDI has also won similar lawsuits in New York and Philadelphia.

Washington Examiner:

Supreme Court rejects Pamela Geller’s appeal over ads depicting Prophet Muhammad on DC Metro