County Pays Big for Violating the First Amendment

Seattle, Washington — As a result of a recent Ninth Circuit ruling that King County (Seattle, Washington) violated the First Amendment when it rejected a “Faces of Global Terrorism” ad submitted by Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and their organization, who were represented by the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), the County paid AFLC $200,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs

In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit held that the County’s rejection of the ad based on its disparagement standard was viewpoint discrimination and that its rejection of the ad based on its disruption standard was unreasonable, all in violation of the First Amendment.

The County transit authority refused to run the ad, claiming that it was disparaging to Muslims because the “faces” of the global terrorists depicted in the ad—“faces” which came directly from the FBI’s most wanted global terrorist list—were those of Muslims.

AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel Robert Muise commented:

“When the government restricts speech based on a claim that it is demeaning or disparaging to Muslims, not only will the government lose in court on First Amendment grounds, but it will pay for its unlawful actions.”

David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, added:

“It is clear from the record and the Ninth Circuit’s decision that King County is suffering from the debilitating disease of political correctness, which, as this case demonstrates, can be costly.  And this is just the latest example of AFLC’s success.  So long as government officials continue with their censorship, we will make them pay.”

AFLC has represented Geller, Spencer, and AFDI successfully in federal lawsuits across the country, most notably in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., where the courts have ordered the transit authorities to run AFDI’s anti-terrorism ads.  In each of those cases, the transit authorities were forced to pay substantial legal fees to AFLC.  In Chicago, the transit authority initially refused to run an AFDI “anti-jihad” ad, only to capitulate after stating in a letter that while transit authority officials considered the ad “morally reprehensible,” they were aware of AFLC’s successful litigation.