A federal judge in Manhattan ruled Friday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority infringed on a pro-Israel advocacy group's First Amendment rights by rejecting its advertisements, the New York Times reported.
MTA said that the American Freedom Defense Initiative ads were rejected because they contained "demeaning language."
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The group sought to place text-only ads reading "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man."
Then, between two Stars of David, the advertisement said: "Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
MTA argued that the wording was in violation of its guidelines, which state it will not accept "advertisements that demeaned individuals or groups on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin" and several other listed categories.
AFDI was given the opportunity to revise the ad but refused it, arguing that the "no-demeaning standard" was a violation of the First Amendment.
Judge Paul A. Engelmayer did not accept MTA's arguments, saying that the agency’s guidelines still permit "ads that contained demeaning language as long as it demeaned people or groups outside of the characteristics or circumstances included in the prohibited list."
He even offered examples, like "blondes are bimbos" and "lawyers are sleazebags," the report said.
"Whatever weight might be assigned to the governmental interest in banning demeaning speech on the exterior of New York City buses on an even-handed basis… there is no good reason for protecting some individuals and groups, but not others, from such abuse," he ruled.
He said that the agency's language standard, "as currently formulated," was inconsistent with the First Amendment.
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