Court to Hold Hearing on Whether MTA Must Run Pamela Geller Anti-Jihad Bus Ad

On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, a hearing will be held in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on whether the recent change to the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) advertising regulations moots the court’s order directing the MTA to run a “Hamas Killing Jews” advertisement on MTA buses.

The hearing is part of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer after the MTA refused to run the following ad:

Anti-Jihad Ad

MTA’s rejection was based upon its “security assessment,” fearing that some New Yorkers (presumably Muslims) would likely take the Hamas quote to kill Jews as a religious instruction and thus engage in imminent violence.  However, as the MTA acknowledges, this same ad ran in Chicago and San Francisco without incident.

The federal court in lower Manhattan had previously ruled that the MTA’s rejection of the ad violated Ms. Geller’s First Amendment right to free speech and granted AFLC’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  The MTA quickly changed its policy to preclude “political” ads and asked the court to dissolve the order requiring the MTA to run the ad.

AFLC is asking the court to require the MTA to display the ad immediately.

AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi will represent AFDI, Geller, and Spencer at the hearing.  Yerushalmi commented,

“The MTA has targeted our client Pamela Geller because it and the PC-police don’t like her viewpoint about global jihad.  Well, that just doesn’t cut it under the First Amendment.  It is time for the MTA to act like a government agency bounded by the Constitution and not by a bureaucrat’s fear of an Islamic heckler’s veto.”

Yerushalmi continued,

“If the MTA can get away with this obvious ploy to rewrite its regulations to come up with a new reason to violate the court’s order, it has successfully turned the law and the judicial system into its very own doormat.”