Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) told reporters how he felt about D.C. Metro rejecting a Catholic Christmas ad because of its new policy against “issue oriented” ads. “I would think they would need the ad revenue,” Hogan said, pointing out Metro’s large funding shortfalls. He added that the transit agency actually really needed three wise men.
“I would think they need the ad revenue rather than turning it down,” Hogan said, “and, as I understand, the ads they wanted to place said ‘the perfect gift for Christmas’ and had a picture of three wise men. If anybody needed three wise men, it’s metro and WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) so I mean they ought to put that in every single train car as far as I’m concerned.”
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington advertisement was for an initiative urging the public to consider the spiritual side of the Christmas season by learning about Advent and other Catholic Christmas traditions. It depicts three shepherds under a starry night and the simple slogan “Find the Perfect Gift.”
The Archdiocese announced over the weekend that they will be appealing a D.C. judge’s decision siding with WMATA in the Archdiocese’s November lawsuit over WMATA rejecting their ad.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson approved of WMATA’s policy Friday, reasoning that inflammatory issue-oriented ads could incite violence.
“Given [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s] concerns about the risks posed by issue-oriented ads, including ads promoting or opposing religion, its decision was reasonable,” Jackson said in her ruling. “The regulation is reasonably aligned with WMATA’s duty to provide safe, reliable transportation ... and it does not violate the First Amendment.”
The Federalist points out that, in another part of her decision, Judge Jackson invoked concern over domestic terrorism as one of the reasons for the policy.
“One of the factors that spurred [Metro] to close its advertising forum was the submission of an ad featuring a cartoon depiction of the Prophet Mohammad,” Jackson wrote. “Drawing the Prophet Mohammed is highly offensive to Muslims, and [Metro] was aware that the ad was drawn at a contest where two gunmen were killed in an attempt to prevent the event.”
WMATA’s policy on issue-oriented ads prompted other lawsuits including one from the American Civil Liberties Union filed in August over their refusal to run ads for the ACLU, an abortion clinic, Milo Yiannopoulos’s book, and PETA.