On Monday, March 7, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari in American Freedom Defense Initiative v. King County, a case challenging the advertising policies of Seattle’s mass transit authority. American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), which has challenged other transit agencies’ advertising policies, is an organization known for provocative political advertising that is interpreted by many observers as being anti-Muslim. In the decision below, denying the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the transit authority had created a nonpublic forum with respect to bus advertising, and that the authority’s regulations—which prohibited political speech and other forms of noncommercial speech—were viewpoint neutral and reasonable in light of the purposes of the forum. A cert petition was filed with the Supreme Court, but as with a similar case involving AFDI for which a cert petition was filed earlier this term, the Court denied the petition. Justice Thomas authored a dissent from the denial of certiorari, arguing that the Court should have taken the case to resolve a division among the lower courts over the proper treatment of transit advertising.
American Freedom Defense Initiative v. King County, 577 U.S. ___, No. 15-584 (Mar. 7, 2016).