Lawsuit over Metro bus ad

Jan 19, 2011

King County is being sued over its refusal to allow a controversial ad on Metro buses. The advertisement, sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, reads:  “Israeli War Crimes.Your Tax Dollars at Work.”

County officials originally agreed to the ad in December, but changed their mind when news of the campaign sparked international criticism and concerns about violence.

 But, speaking at a news conference, American Civil Liberties Union spokeswoman Kathleen Taylor said failure to allow the ad is a clear violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

 We have to recognize that in a democracy, you’re going to have people that disagree with each other.  We can’t presume that because a person disagrees with the Mideast Awareness Campaign that that person is going to engage in violence. In the world there are people who do not act responsibly, but our governments can’t act based on the lowest common denominator.

King County won’t comment on the specifics of the lawsuit.  But officials say they have a right to reject advertising that could result in harm to passengers or drivers. They say local and federal law enforcement has advised them that the debate over the bus placards creates security concerns.

Copy of complaint: SeaMac v. King County