American Freedom Defense Initiative v. King County

This court case is active

The ACLU of Washington moved for leave to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the Western District of Washington case American Freedom Defense Initiatve (“AFDI”) v. King County arguing that the policy used by King County is unconstitutional because it grants too much discretion and allows King County to censor viewpoints that it does not agree with or that it finds troubling.  The ACLU further argued that the policy was also constitutionally unsound because it allows King County to reject speech based on real or speculative third-party reaction.

American Freedom Defense Initiative (“AFDI”) describes itself as an organization that is “dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and individual rights under the law[.]”  AFDI advocates against the spread of Islam in the United States and for the Israeli supremacy in the Middle East.  Recently, AFDI has utilized transit advertising forums across the country to spread its message.  Many of the ads that AFDI attempted to run were rejected by transit agencies across the country.  AFDI sued for injunctive relief in many of the instances when its message was rejected.  The outcomes of these cases have varied greatly. 

In this instance, AFDI presented King County with an ad that was substantially similar to one run by the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Taskforce (“JTTF”). 

King County accepted and ran the JTTF ad until the JTTF removed the ad from circulation after politicians and community members decried the ad as offensive and promoting religious and racial intolerance.  Soon after the JTTF pulled its ad from the transit advertising forum, AFDI submitted its “Faces of Global Terrorism” ad.  This time King County rejected the ad citing to the sections of its policy barring advertisements that are: (1) false or misleading; (2) demeaning and disparaging; and (3) harmful and disruptive to the transit system.

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