Judge Rules Controversial Bus Ad is Free Speech

October 01, 2012

DETROIT – In a victory for free speech, a federal judge ruled late Friday that the Ann Arbor Transit Authority’s advertising policy is unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed the lawsuit last year on behalf of an Ann Arbor activist whose attempts to purchase a controversial bus ad that advocates for the boycott of Israel were rebuffed.

The ACLU asked the judge to strike down AATAs policy as unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment and asked the court to require AATA to treat Blaine Coleman’s ad the same way it treats all other ads.

The following can be attributed to Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan staff attorney:

“Now that the court has ruled in favor of Mr. Coleman’s First Amendment rights, the AATA should do the right thing and run Mr. Coleman’s ad just like it runs hundreds of other ads. If the First Amendment means anything, it means that the government cannot censor speech just because it is controversial, unpopular, or stirs people’s emotions. Many people do not agree with Mr. Coleman’s views about Israel, and some people find those views deeply offensive. But the appropriate response is more speech and not censorship.“

Key News and Documents
Read the decision in this free speech case
Read the winning brief in this free speech case
ACLU Sues Ann Arbor Bus System For Censoring Controversial Ad