Wednesday, April 29, 2015
In a likely response to last week's decision by a federal district judge that the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) must accept an anti-Muslim advert (representing that Jihad means "Kill Jews"), the MTA today amended its advertising policy to exclude all political advertisements.
The new policy's purpose is to"convert the MTA’s Property from a designated public forum into a limited public forum by excluding advertising of a political nature." The new policy prohibits advertising that:
Is political in nature, including but not limited to advertisements that either:
Are directed or addressed to the action, inaction, prospective action or policies of a governmental entity, except as permitted in Sections IV.A.2–IV.A.3 of this Policy [governing advertising by the MTA itself or government agencies]; or
Prominently or predominately advocate or express a political message, including but not limited to an opinion, position, or viewpoint regarding disputed economic, political, moral, religious or social issues or related matters, or support for or opposition to disputed issues or causes.
The issue of anti-Muslim adverts on public transportation has caused much activity in the courts. The new MTA policy is similar to one considered by the Sixth Circuit which found a rejection of an anti-Muslim advertisement in southern Michigan buses by the governmental authority SMART to be constitutional under SMART's policy prohibiting several categories of advertising including "political or political campaign advertising."
[UPDATE: Here's some reporting on the issue by NPR's NYC station.]