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      Ann Arbor Transportation Agency Rejects Anti-Israel Ads

      The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority has, for the second time, rejected a request to run an anti-Israel advertisement on its buses.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 1/14/2013, 2:46 AM

      Anti-Israel protest (illustrative)
      Anti-Israel protest (illustrative)
      Flash 90

      The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) has, for the second time, rejected a request to run an anti-Israel advertisement on its buses, the Ann Arbor Chronicle reported.

      AATA met to reconsider the ad on Thursday, following a court order.

      In January of 2011, the agency rejected a request from Ann Arbor resident Blaine Coleman to place an anti-Israel advertisement on its buses, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file a lawsuit against the AATA, claiming it violated Coleman’s First Amendment right to free speech and 14th Amendment right to due process.

      The ad was an image of a skull and bones and said, “Boycott ‘Israel.’ Boycott Apartheid.”

      In rejecting the ad in November of 2011, AATA said the ad violated the agency’s policy prohibiting any advertisement that “defames or is likely to hold up to scorn or ridicule a person or group of persons.”

      The board also noted that the AATA does not “intend to create a public forum,” and that “all advertising must be considered in good taste and shall uphold the aesthetic standards as determined by AATA.”

      In September 2012 U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled that AATA’s advertising policy was unconstitutional saying the First Amendment overpowers the AATA's discretion to run only ads it considers in "good taste."

      After revising its policy and revisiting the advertisement earlier this month, the AATA upheld its initial decision.

      "Our view is that we are clarifying our policy to remove the language which the judge found was too vague, but we think our policy already contained the language necessary for denying the ad, and that's the way we still prefer," said AATA Board Chairman Charles Griffith.

      In rejecting the ad Thursday, the board of the AATA cited its “prohibition of political or political campaign advertising, as well as a prohibition against holding a person or group up to scorn and ridicule,” the Chronicle reported.