Supreme Court Passes On Anti-Islam Bus Ad Appeal

| by Nik Bonopartis
A bus in Honolulu.A bus in Honolulu.

Ads by an anti-Muslim group won't be returning to Seattle-area buses after the Supreme Court refused to hear the group's appeal.

The ad, which featured what it called the "Faces of Global Terrorism," was rejected by officials in King County, Washington. The county said the the ad didn't meet its standards, which prohibit advertisements that are "false or misleading, demeaning or disparaging or harmful or disruptive to the transit system," the Associated Press reported.

“In order to protect Metro’s proprietary interest in providing a high-quality transit experience, advertisers must engage in civil and respectful discourse appropriate to the environment and community standards,” King County attorneys argued, per McClatchy Tribune News Service.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which sought to purchase the ad space on county buses, filed a lawsuit against the county in 2015, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with King County. Appealing to the high court was the last step for the group, which was founded by anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller.

The group is best known for its 2015 free speech contest in Texas, which promised a $10,000 award for the best cartoon of Islam's Prophet Mohammad. The event made national headlines when two Muslim gunmen tried to attack the exhibition; they were shot and killed by security and police who were guarding the building.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative's ad claimed the FBI was offering a $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of the sixteen men pictured. The earlier appeals court decision noted the ad was misleading, pointing out the Department of State had offered reward money, not the FBI, and while there was a monetary reward for helping to capture the suspected terrorists, it was not $25 million, AP reported.

Noting justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented on the majority's decision not to hear the case, the McClatchy report speculated on the "intriguing but unanswerable question" of whether the recently deceased conservative Justice Antonin Scalia could have convinced his fellow justices to take the case. Scalia was a noted free-speech advocate. Thomas argued the court shouldn't "shy away from this First Amendment case," saying it raises important constitutional questions.

Sources: Associated Press via KING-5 TV, McClatchy Washington Bureau / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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