free speech

An Asian-American rock-band with an eyebrow-raising name has scored a big victory in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The court ruled that their name — The Slants — is private speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The government, the court writes, has no business trying to regulate it by denying the band a trademark.

SPOKANE, Wash. - The question of how free speech applies to the side of buses is before a panel of federal judges. Members of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Wednesday in a special meeting in Spokane. The case stems from a controversial ad on Seattle buses but has implications for transit systems around the Northwest.

A group called the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign bought the ad in 2010. It shows children standing next to the rubble of a destroyed building. The text says, “Israeli War Crimes: Your Tax Dollars At Work.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine says the escalation of global interest in a bus placard critical of Israel introduces significant security concerns and makes Metro buses vulnerable to disruption. 

Because of this, he’s approved an interim policy that calls for a halt to the acceptance of any new non-commercial advertising on King County buses.

Metro expects to complete work on a permanent transit ad policy by the end of January.