A federal appeals court has upheld the rejection of a conservative group’s anti-terrorism advertising campaign on the sides of Seattle Buses, citing the ads as “false.”
The American Freedom Defense Initiative, called an Islamophobic group, appealed the rejection of its “Faces of Global Terrorism” advertisement set for display on the exterior of Seattle Metro buses. The group called rejection of its ads a free speech violation.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday upheld denial of a preliminary injunction for the group, which would have forced the Metro to post the bus ads while their case was pending.
Nothing prevents the group from displaying the same ad in many alternative venues, the court said.
The group, headed by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, sought bus display ads in response to a U.S. State Department add with pictures of men it called the Faces of Global Terrorism.
After the State Dept. ad appeared, Metro received public complaints as well as expression of concern by a member of Congress and members of the clergy, that the ad was offensive and would increase mistreatment of racial, ethnic and religious minorities. The State Department voluntarily retracted the ad.
But a month later Geller and Spencer submitted a nearly identical poster for use on the sides of buses and the Metro authority refused it.
The appeals court held the Metro buses are not a “public forum” allowing broader first amendment protection and that the group’s free speech rights were only slightly infringed because they could advertise elsewhere. In addition, the court agreed with Metro that the ads were “indisputably false.”
The ads indicate, “The FBI Is Offering Up To $25 Million Reward If You Help Capture One Of These Jihadis.”
‘The FBI is not offering rewards at all, and the State Department offers a reward of at most $5 million, not $25 million, for the capture of one of the pictured terrorists,” the court said.
Judge Susan Graber wrote the opinion, joined by Judges Michael Daly Hawkins and Ronald Gould.
Case: American Freedom Defense Initiative v. King County, No. 14-35095