web analytics
September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


MTA Sneaks In Free Speech Restrictions, Bypassing Court Ruling Favoring Anti-Jihad Ad


MTA chairman Joseph J. Lhota.

MTA chairman Joseph J. Lhota.

In what many, including legal scholar Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, call “unconstitutional” restrictions on free speech, the board of the New York City Transportation Authority unanimously passed a new set of regulations governing the kinds of advertisements it will accept. The MTA is now empowered to ban any ad the  MTA

reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.

The new regulations also require disclaimers to be included in any political, religious or morality-based ads, stating  that they do not represent the views of the MTA.

These new regulations were announced on Thursday, September 27, just three days after the American Freedom Defense Initiative ads were put up after a lengthy and costly court battle brought by AFDI and its executive and associate directors, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, to enforce their First Amendment right to free speech.  That ad appears in 10 subway stations in the New York subway system.  It reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.  Support Israel.  Defeat Jihad.”

The spokesman for the MTA, Aaron Donovan, admitted to a reporter from The Blaze that the changes came in response to AFDI’s anti-Jihad ads and the ensuing litigation.

Initial reports were that commuters were passing by the ads without any noticeable responses, but apparently there were complaints that instilled fear in MTA board members.

There was at least one widely publicized attack against the ad, engaged in by Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy. That attack was motivated by the woman, who has only been a U.S. citizen for one year.  Eltahawy claimed that her acts of criminal vandalism, which were caught on videotape by The New York Post, were legitimate acts of free speech and non-violent protest.

Eltahawy was arrested and charged with various offenses.  When she was released from prison the next day, Eltahawy was critical of her time in jail.  However, Eltahawy  neglected to mention that when she was detained by Egyptian police during the Arab Spring uprisings, her arm and her wrist were broken and she claimed the police repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted her.

The newly-elected Egyptian president, former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, instructed the Egyptian Consul General, Zousef Zada, to monitor Eltahawy’s case.

The New York Times reported on the new restrictions, without any comment regarding the potentially unconstitutional regulations.

Instead, the venerable leader against the assault on the First Amendment – The New York Times – merely reported the outlandish statements made at a press conference announcing the changes, by the MTA chairman, Joseph J. Lhota.   “We’ve gotten to the point where we needed to take action today,” Lhota said, in what must have been a reference to anger directed at the anti-Jihad ads, “You deal with a free speech issue with more free speech.”   Like Eltahawy, Lhota appears to believe that free speech includes official action taken to restrict free speech.

The MTA may hope it has avoided a First Amendment challenge because its restriction is “viewpoint neutral.” This is because the new regulation does not overtly single out any special group or groups for special treatment, which was the fatal flaw pointed out by Judge Englemayer in his July 20 ruling which forced the MTA to finally post them, after a year-long delay caused by their rejection of that ad on grounds determined to be unconstitutional.

The new restriction is sure to inspire potent legal challenges on other constitutional grounds.  For example, can one “reasonably foresee” what kind of ad will “incite violence” or a “breach of the peace”?  A legal challenge on numerous grounds should be anticipated, as predicted by Dershowitz in an interview with The Algemeinerin which he referred to the new rules as not only “unconstitutional,” but also “plain dumb.”

And to argue that ads, such as the anti-Jihad ones, will incite violence, whereas the pro-Israel ones would not, because they did not, might lead to an argument underscoring the point of Geller’s ads. That ads perceived by Muslims, to be anti-Muslim, such that they justify violence, could conceivably be used to prove that Muslims are unable to tolerate First Amendment norms in the same way as do other ethnic groups.  And that argument itself might, under this theory, incite violence.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

10 Responses to “MTA Sneaks In Free Speech Restrictions, Bypassing Court Ruling Favoring Anti-Jihad Ad”

  1. Stephen Tannenbaum says:

    So next time an anti-Israel ad goes up, we have to "breach the peace", don't we?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, all this proves again is that violence works and works absolutely :(

  3. Alice Derman says:

    No. You'll be arrested and New York City will agree to run the ad free for the next year in order to make up for your actions. Regardless of how they are written, these rules only protect Muslims, not Christians and least of all Jews who are the ones stirring up all these problems in the Middle East anyway.

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    The ACLU will be on this like white on rice, just as they were when the Boston transit agency tried something similar.

  5. So let me get this straight. An ad in the subway trying to sell loans that rip off poor people at 24% interest a year are ok–but to say that I support the only American style democracy in the Middle East that doesn't murder their kids for being gay, should not be posted.

    Who's running the MTA nuthouse?

  6. Unto Here says:

    It's not really a democracy, is it? and you murder people for no other reason than they just being born there, on the lands you want to take from them, so …

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
A male figure sculpted on the sarcophagus cover, possibly the image of the deceased.
Unique 1,800-Year-Old Sarcophagus Found at Ashkelon Building Site
Latest News Stories
A male figure sculpted on the sarcophagus cover, possibly the image of the deceased.

An extremely rare sarcophagus has been uncovered at a building site in Ashkelon.

Jim Bennett, zl, father of Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi party chairman Naftali Bennett.

Jim Bennett, 73, father of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, has passed away in Haifa.

IAF fighter jet heads to  Gaza.

Israeli fighter pilots bombed a Hamas military post in northern Gaza at dawn on Thursday.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Israel. Aug. 31, 2015.

Sen. Cotton sounds confident there is much more that can be done to protect us all from the Nuclear Iran Deal.

Jewish agricultural laws aren’t necessarily something the rest of the world easily becomes fixated on, but lately the word “Shemitah” has been popping up frequently in Google searches.

The Knesset passed its first reading for the 2015-2016 budget by a vote of 57 to 53.

The Israeli police shot him before he threw his bomb at them.

Shortly before 7 PM, sniper fire originating from Gaza hit a home in the Israeli town of Netiv Ha’asara.

A teacher at an UNRWA school in Jordan includes a Jewish blood libel cartoon on his Facebook account.

“I, Yaakov Litzman, pledge…to be faithful to the government of Israel and to its laws.”

Pope Francis invited the President of Israel for his first official visit to the Vatican.

The Maryland Democrat caved in even though she is retiring at the end of her current term.

Another rash of life-threatening firebombing and rock-throwing attacks has prompted Israel to think twice about abandoning soldiers and civilians as sitting ducks.

Pressure from Gush Etzion leaders has convinced Ya’alon to authorize a site in memory of last year’s three kidnap-murder victims.

As reported earlier, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s grandfather’s grave on the Mount of Olives was desecrated overnight by Arab vandals who destroyed and burned numerous graves. The Mount of Olives is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the world.

British liberal and leftists largely support the deal, though there are some center-left figures who oppose the agreement,

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Israel. Aug. 31, 2015.

Sen. Cotton sounds confident there is much more that can be done to protect us all from the Nuclear Iran Deal.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D)

Three Reps and two Senators announced their support for the Nuclear Iran Deal.

THThree NYC Cong. Ds from heavily Jewish districts defied constituents, announcing support for Nuclear Iran Deal.

Brooklyn politicians and community leaders called on Cong. members to vote down the Nuclear Iran deal.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC chair, allegedly blocked a DNC resolution supporting the Iran Deal.

Swiss Ambassador Portrays U.S. and Iran as doves of peace defecating on Netanyahu.

A report by the entity responsible for ensuring the peaceful development of nuclear energy worldwide and the one upon which the world depends for monitoring Iran’s nuclear activity revealed that over the past few months Iran has been working on and adding to a building at its Parchin site. Parchin is an Iranian military complex located southeast of Tehran. It […]

The Donald and the Cruz together against Iran on Sept. 9 at D.C. rally.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/mta-sneaks-in-free-speech-restrictions-bypassing-court-ruling-favoring-anti-jihad-ad/2012/09/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: