For the second time in three months, a federal judge has said the company that manages advertising for the T did nothing to violate the First Amendment in rejecting an ad from a New Hampshire group that compares Palestinians to savages.
Only this time, Judge Nathaniel Gorton signaled he's getting a little sick of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which sued the T a second time after the T accepted a compromise ad after rejecting its first ad, then rejected the group's last-minute "tweak" to that ad that made it more similar to the original ad. In an order released today, Gorton writes:
Plaintiffs acted in bad faith in submitting the Second Advertisement to the MBTA, waiting for that advertisement to be accepted and then using that acceptance as an excuse to file a second lawsuit against the MBTA rather than accepting its compromise offer to display the Second Advertisement. Such blatant gamesmanship and deliberate confrontation does not warrant the â€śextraordinary and drastic remedyâ€ť of ordering the MBTA to display the Third Advertisement.
In both lawsuits, the group was seeking immediate injunctions to force the T to run the ads, on the grounds that refusing to run them was a violation of its First Amendment rights.
In the first case, Gorton declined to issue the immediate relief because of an earlier MBTA advertising case - involving condom ads - which was decided in the T's favor because it's considered a "non-public forum." But in today's ruling, on the second lawsuit, he said he doesn't even have to consider that issue again, because he has the discretion "to deny equitable relief to a party that has acted in bad faith or with unclean hands."
While the legal wrangling has been going on, the MBTA has been running ads from another group that support Israel by showing a map of the Middle East and pointing out how small Israel is geographically compared to all of its Arab neighbors.
Yes, of course the MBTA is now embroiled in the Middle East conflict, 11/7/13.
Judge says MBTA has right to ban ads that seem to call Palestinians savages , 12/23/13.
Muslim-hating New Hampshire group sues MBTA over ads - again, 2/8/14.