Supreme Court declines to take up 'Draw Muhammad' transit ad case

Pamela Geller’s group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), started buying ads on public transportation in 2012. Then in 2015, the group held a “Draw Muhammad” Art Contest in Texas. The AFDI subsequently attempted to purchase ads on DC Metro buses using the winning image from the context but the city rejected the ad. The case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court on First Amendment grounds and now the Court has declined to take it up. From CBS DFW:

The Supreme Court is declining to get involved in a dispute that began when a group tried to have Washington transit officials display an ad with a provocative cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The justices said Monday they would not get involved in the case.

The Texas-based American Freedom Defense Initiative in 2015 submitted an ad that depicted a sword-wielding Prophet Muhammad saying: “You can’t draw me!” Muslims generally believe any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is blasphemous. The cartoon won a $10,000 prize in the contest sponsored by the group.

The decision by the Supreme Court means the ad will not be allowed as the ad space is deemed a non-public forum, meaning they have a right to determine that issue-oriented ads aren’t allowed. The Hill reports there is another pending case over the same issue:

WMATA is facing another legal challenge over the issue-oriented ads ban from the Archdiocese of Washington, which sought to run religious-themed ads on the D.C. Metro.

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last year in favor of WMATA’s ad policy, finding that the Metro system was a non-public forum.

The Supreme Court is now weighing whether it should take up that case.

It’s a pretty safe bet they’ll pass on that one too.

The 2015 Art Contest held by AFDI in Garland, Texas was attacked by two men, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, who were both shot and killed at the scene. As I pointed out last month, the FBI had an undercover agent in a car directly behind Simpson and Soofi who took a photo of the scene seconds before the attack. Here’s the photo:

A third man, Abdul-Kareem, was convicted of conspiracy after the attack but was not present. The attack on the art contest in Garland was the first ISIS-claimed attack on US soil. Here’s a 2015 news report on the attack: