First Amendment

Appeals court rules against anti-Muslim group seeking bus ads with false terrorist-reward claims

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An anti-Muslim group isn’t entitled to a preliminary injunction that would allow it to post its terrorist-reward ads on buses in the Seattle area, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative is unlikely to succeed in its First Amendment case because its ads falsely claim the FBI is offering a reward of up to $25 million to capture any pictured terrorist, according to the decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Associated Press and Courthouse News Service have stories.

The ad showed 16 photographs of wanted terrorists with the caption, “AFDI Wants You to Stop a Terrorist.” It also states, “The FBI Is Offering Up To $25 Million Reward If You Help Capture One of These Jihadis.” King County Metro Transit rejected the ad, citing a policy that bars ads that are false or misleading.

The FBI isn’t offering any rewards at all, the appeals court said. And while the State Department does offer a $25 million reward for the capture of some terrorists, its top reward for the terrorists pictured in AFDI’s ad is $5 million, the appeals court said.

Before the AFDI sought to place its ad on Seattle-area buses, the U.S. State Department had posted a similar ad but withdrew it after complaints.

AFDI’s First Amendment battles over bus ads have had mixed results in the courts. A federal judge in Manhattan ruled in April that the group’s satirical “killing Jews” ad is protected speech that can’t be barred from New York City buses and subways.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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