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ACLU Seeks To Overturn Ban On Bus Ads In Federal Court Today

Amy Radil

Monday a federal judge in Seattle will consider whether King County should be forced to run bus ads about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.


The ACLU of Washington is challenging King County's decision to pull the ads, which were purchased by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign or SeaMAC. The firm that handles advertising on Metro buses initially approved the ads last fall. They depicted a bombed–out building with the words "Israeli war crimes: your tax dollars at work." But King County's filing says after a public outcry and warnings from law enforcement officials, Metro declined to run the ads. King County executive Dow Constantine announced a ban on noncommercial advertising while Metro formulates a new policy. The ban blocked response ads from a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative that mingled images of Hitler and swastikas with Palestinians.

Monday attorneys for the ACLU are seeking a preliminary injunction to force Metro to run the ads. They say the buses are a public forum and SeaMAC's First Amendment rights have been violated. They also note that Metro has run ads about Middle Eastern politics in the past. King County's legal filing says that Metro's previous policy did allow for some political speech but only if it didn't result in potential disruptions to transit service. The purpose of bus ads, it says, is to make money for transit, not to make people angry or scare away riders.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

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