ACLU Brings Together Milo, Abortion Pills and PETA in First Amendment Lawsuit

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 10, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Metro, alleging the transit agency's ad restrictions violate the First Amendment.

That brings us to our final client: Milo Worldwide LLC. The suit named the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority and General Manager Paul Wiedefeld as defendants. Carafem, which provides birth control and abortion, wanted to advertise its abortion pill that can be used for up to 10 weeks after conception. PETA is an animal rights organization.

The WMATA also rejected an ad from the ACLU displaying the text of the First Amendment in English, Spanish and Arabic.

Business Insider reached out to DC Metro for comment, which said that it changed its advertising forum to a nonpublic forum and adopted commercial advertising guidelines that prohibit issue-oriented ads, including political, religious and advocacy ads, since 2015.

"This case highlights the consequences of the government's attempt to suppress all controversial speech on public transit property", said Arthur Spitzer, the legal director of the ACLU-DC and lead counsel in the case. The metro now has ads up for a sustainable energy company.

The lawsuit wants the court to order Metro to run the ads in trains, stations and buses; and declare that four sections of the guidelines - 4, 9, 13, 14 - are unconstitutional because they violate free speech, are enforced arbitrarily and are vague, according to an ACLU statement.

Of the lawsuit MILO said: "The ACLU will be representing me against the Washington, D.C. Metro after the latter caved to pressure from progressive activists and tore down ads for my book, DANGEROUS".

Metro originally ran the advertisements for Yiannopoulous' book but pulled them a few days later after receiving negative feedback from riders. "But together, they powerfully illustrate the indivisibility of the First Amendment", the ACLU said in a blog post Wednesday.

"In its zeal to avoid hosting offensive and hateful speech, the government has eliminated speech that makes us think, including the text of the First Amendment itself", says Lee Rowland, senior staff attorney with the ACLU, in a press release.

In 2015, following criticism of racist anti-Islam station ads, Metro reviewed their policies and chose to prohibit all "issue-oriented ads".

The ACLU contends that even seemingly innocuous advertisements for leather products, medical services and other books are not without their own presumed politics, even on controversial issues.

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