Court Asked to Rule that Censorship of Anti-Terrorism Ads Violates First Amendment

Today, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), filed a motion for summary judgment, asking a federal judge sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to rule that King County, Washington violated the First Amendment by rejecting two “Faces of Global Terrorism” ads submitted by AFLC’s clients, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and their organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI).

The County’s principal objection to the ads is that they allegedly “demean or disparage” Muslims.

The proposed advertisements appear below.


Revised Ad

AFDI’s “global terrorism” ads include pictures, names, and a similar message from an earlier global terrorism advertisement sponsored by the U.S. State Department, which was accepted for display on King County buses.  The State Department ad displayed these “Faces of Global Terrorism” in an effort to “stop a terrorist” and “save lives,” offering “up to $25 million reward” for helping to capture one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists.  The State Department pulled its ad after receiving a handful of complaints, mostly from Muslim organizations, complaining that the ad demeaned Muslims.

AFDI submitted its ads following the State Department’s decision, which was based on political correctness and not national security or the underlying facts.  Indeed, the “faces” appearing on the State Department’s ad and AFDI’s ads all come directly from the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list.  It’s not surprising that of the thirty-two terrorists listed at the time, thirty had Muslim names or were wanted for terrorism related to organizations conducting terrorist acts in the name of Islam.

AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel Robert Muise commented:

“The County’s rejection of our clients’ ads is a clearcut form of viewpoint discrimination which is the most egregious form of content discrimination prohibited by the First Amendment.  And not only is the County’s position contrary to the First Amendment, it is contrary to reality—namely, that jihadists pose a significant threat to our national security.  Denying this reality will have serious consequences beyond violating our Constitution.”

AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi added:

“It’s not surprising that a county in Seattle, Washington is taking such an absurd and unlawful position.  Recall that the Washington State Attorney General is one of the leaders in the ill-advised challenge to President Trump’s temporary ban on foreigners travelling from terrorist-producing countries.  If I lived in Seattle, Washington, I wouldn’t feel safe when my county and state officials place political correctness above local and national security.”