Today, a hearing will be held in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on the American Freedom Law Center’s (AFLC) motion for a preliminary junction, which asks the court to enter an order requiring New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to run a “Hamas Killing Jews” advertisement on MTA buses.
The motion is part of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer after the MTA refused to run the following 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.
AFLC is asking the court to enjoin the MTA’s speech restriction on First Amendment grounds.
AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi will represent AFDI, Geller, and Spencer at the hearing. Yerushalmi commented,
“The MTA’s prior restraint on our client’s speech is not only wrongheaded, it is clearly unconstitutional. Under the First Amendment, the government is not permitted to impose special prohibitions on speech out of fear that some members of the public might react violently to its content. Quite simply, the First Amendment knows no heckler’s veto.”
“If the MTA can get away with this obvious ploy to manufacture a threat when this ad has already run without incident in Chicago and San Francisco for months, it will use this pretext to shut down all unwanted speech. This would not only make a mockery of the First Amendment, it would actually encourage the thuggery and violence the MTA now claims it fears.”