“Anti-Israel advertisement dispute continues with new AATA policy”
By Stephanie Shenouda, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 9, 2013
MICHIGAN DAILY (At the University of Michigan; Ann Arbor)
No resolution was reached yesterday during a conference between the Ann Arbor Transit Authority and Ann Arbor resident Blaine Coleman in an endless battle over AATA’s decision not to post Coleman’s advertisement featuring anti-Israeli sentiments on their buses.
The two-year-old case continues as both parties were asked to submit supplemental briefs before U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith makes his decision, possibly in the next few weeks.
In January of 2011, Coleman purchased advertisement space on the side of an Ann Arbor bus. The ad had many images of skulls accompanied by the words “Boycott Israel”. The AATA rejected the advertisement, asserting that the advertisement violated two provisions of its policy: that the advertisement be in “good taste” and that it “not contain any scorn or ridicule”.
However, in September 2012 Goldsmith ruled that AATA’s advertising policy was unconstitutional. Coleman, however, sought further relief, arguing that his first amendment right to free speech guaranteed him the right to purchase the advertisement.
After revising its policy and revisiting the advertisement earlier this month, the AATA upheld its decision not to run it. Again, noting it ridiculed an individual or group and was in violation of their advertising standards.
“We felt like the ad was demeaning and offensive of a certain group and was outside our standards as the AATA,” AATA Chairman Charles Griffith said in an interview. “We reserve the right to reject advertisements that are outside our standards and stand by our decision.”
Griffith clarified that the reasons for banning the advertisement are still “valid” within the AATA’s new policy and does not expect the AATA to change their views on this matter....