Judge rules AATA had grounds to reject anti-Israel ad after revising its policy
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority had the grounds to not run an anti-Israel ad proposed by Ann Arbor resident and pro-Palestinian activist Blaine Coleman because the organization had revised its ad policy.
In U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith's written opinion on the ruling, he stated the basis for Coleman's suit was now moot and AATA's ad policy presented no ongoing constitutional violation or threat of harm.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued AATA on Coleman's behalf in November 2011 after AATA refused to run the "Boycott Israel -- Boycott Apartheid" ad on the sides of its buses. AATA claimed the ad violated its advertising policy -- which Coleman claimed was unconstitutional.
In July, Judge Goldsmith ruled AATA's decision to reject Coleman's ad was wrong and prompted the AATA revised its ad policy. The revision deleted the "good taste" provision in the policy and added a portion barring political ads.
AATA re-considered Coleman's ad under its revised policy -- per Judge Goldsmith's ruling -- and rejected the ad again.
Judge Goldsmith's Tuesday judgment stated that because a limited public forum created through AATA's policy revision process Coleman's ad could be rejected without a violation of Coleman's constitutional rights. Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.