I thought Atlas readers might enjoy the following observations from self described "Grateful "Girl-illas" Linda and Sue, who were in the courtroom when I testified Tuesday. I would call them "great-ful," I am grateful for their activism and patriotism:
SMART is as SMART Does .............
We were proud to be at the hearing in support of Pamela and her impressive legal team, and in support of the bedrock freedoms they are defending for all of us. We in Detroit are so grateful that Pamela, Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi invested so much of themselves into fighting to preserve our First Amendment rights, curiously being challenged by the SMART transit authority, while other major cities are allowing the identical ads to run on their buses.
Given what is at stake and the important legal ramifications of this case, we were appalled that none of the local news outlets saw fit to assign any of their reporters to cover the hearing, especially since they were all still at the same federal building following former Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick’s arraignment.
Judge Hood asked thoughtful follow-up questions that kept the trial focused on the important issues of the hearing. We were disheartened, however, that the (not so) SMART attorney stooped to launching a personal ad hominem attack against Pamela and the full scope of her work, attempting to discredit her while telling the judge that he hadn’t even bothered to check out the organizations/individuals behind the two other very controversial bus ad campaigns (an anti-abortion ad and a pro-atheism ad) cited often in the hearing as relevant precedents. Though Notso SMART attorney tried to put Pamela herself on trial, her unflappable equanimity and impassioned conviction to the sanctity of religious liberties and free expression carried the day.
After listening to the testimony of Ms. Gibbons from SMART who declared that there was nothing in the content of the Leaving Islam? ads that could be construed as political in nature, we are baffled as to what could have happened between the time SMART initially accepted the ads/ payment and SMART’s subsequent decision to reject the ads. We can’t help but wonder if any outside organizations or influences brought pressure to bear on SMART to deny the SIOA ad campaign. Ms. Gibbon’s only justification for SMART’s refusal to run the bus ads was her reference to a single unfavorable opinion piece originally published by the Miami Herald. It was our sense that the SMART team failed to establish how the content of the ad violated their own policies and practices. Upon requested questioning, Ms. Gibbons could not clearly identify what in the ad met their criteria for political speech.
In his closing arguments, Robert Muise eloquently made the case that free speech cannot be denied based upon the “whims” or “capriciousness” of government officials. We couldn’t agree more that a dangerous precedent would be set and a slippery slope traversed if government officials begin to impose “viewpoint-based” restrictions on the exercise of our enshrined First Amendment rights.