A federal judge in Seattle has ruled that county officials didn’t violate the First Amendment when they refused to run anti-Israel advertisements on public buses. The ad, which accused the Jewish state of war crimes, was sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign. The Washington chapter of the ACLU recently took up the organization’s case and argued that the county’s rejection of the ads was unconstitutional. But according to the Seattle judge, county officials had a reasonable basis for limiting the content of advertisements on public buses:
A federal judge ruled Friday that King County officials had “a reasonable basis” for refusing to allow an ad to appear on Metro Transitå buses that alleged Israeli war crimes.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones denied a preliminary injunction sought by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign that would have ordered the county to display the ad.
“The threats of violence and disruption from members of the public (in the form of e-mails, phone calls and anonymous photographs) led bus drivers and law-enforcement officials to express safety concerns, and the court finds that it was reasonable” for the county to cancel the ad, Jones wrote in an 18-page order.
This ruling does seem reasonable. Public buses shouldn’t be forced to run politically controversial advertisements, just as they aren’t forced to run sexually explicit advertisements.
But the fight may not be over yet. The Washington ACLU said it would continue to pursue this case, either by appealing the federal judge’s decision or through a District Court trial.