Freedom of speech will be on trial in in the United Sates Courthouse in Manhattan tomorrow morning. Watch this space for developments. Follow me on twitter, here -- I'll update from the courtroom.
NEW YORK, April 2, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The leaders of a prominent national human rights organization will be testifying in a Manhattan court on Tuesday in support of AFDI's free speech lawsuit against the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).
Pamela Geller, Executive Director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and its Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) program, and Robert Spencer, Associate Director of AFDI/SIOA will be at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse at 500 Pearl St. New York on Tuesday, April 3 from 10AM to 2PM.
Geller and Spencer will be available for comment after the hearing.
The American Freedom Law Center filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of AFDI, Geller, and Spencer, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the MTA for violating their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
The suit was filed after the MTA rejected AFDI's pro-Israel advertisement. The MTA claimed that AFDI's advertisement violated its policy against displaying "images or information that demean an individual or group of individuals on account of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation."
Geller said in a statement: "This is a pattern by government agencies to enforce the Sharia. The April 3 hearing is historic in our ongoing fight for the protection of free speech, which is the foundation of our great republic, and for the protection of individual rights."
The lawsuit against New York City is the second such lawsuit filed by AFDI. In 2010, Geller filed suit against the MTA over its refusal to run ads against the Ground Zero Mosque and its claim that there was an embargo on 9/11 images. Geller fought and won that case. She has also successfully sued Detroit/SMART Transit and Miami Transit for refusing to run her ads offering help to people threatened for leaving Islam, although the Detroit transit authorities are appealing that verdict.
The AFDI pro-Israel ad reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
AFLC lawyers David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise, however, will argue that the MTA, as a governmental agency, must comply with federal and state laws, including the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, which prohibit the government from making viewpoint-based restrictions on speech.
At issue also will be the meaning of jihad, which the MTA is contending means solely an interior spiritual struggle, as well as the questions of how does the MTA decide what is and what is not "demeaning," where do they draw the line, and what objective policy do they follow.
AFDI/SIOA is one of America's foremost organizations defending human rights, religious liberty, and the freedom of speech against Islamic supremacist intimidation and attempts to bring elements of Sharia to the United States.