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Supreme Court declines to hear case over ads on MBTA

The US Supreme Court has declined to take up a case involving controversial ads on the MBTA.

The high court announced its order Monday on its website in the case of American Freedom Defense Initiative v. MBTA.

After the MBTA ran pro-Palestinian ads in 2013, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a pro-Israel group, sought to run its own advertisements. Theirs read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel; defeat Jihad.”

The MBTA rejected the message, arguing that it violated policies banning ads that “demean or disparage” a group. The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which has been designated as anti-Islam by the Southern Poverty Law Center, then filed a lawsuit to challenge the rejection.


The MBTA won the case and subsequent appeals in Boston over that ad.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative then sought to appeal to the Supreme Court, but the court denied the group a hearing Monday, including the case on a list of other cases that were being denied hearings.

In November, at a contentious meeting, the MBTA decided it would no longer accept advertisements about political or social issues, saying the moratorium did not violate the First Amendment. The Agency also said it wanted to avoid litigation from people whose advertisements are rejected in the future.

Officials said they were confident the ban was legally sound because the Supreme Court had ruled that a similar ban on public transit in Ohio did not violate the US Constitution.