Yiannopou­los finds ally in ACLU in ef­fort to sue Metro.

Yiannopolous book ads blocked in tran­sit sys­tem

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALEX SWOYER

With the ACLU in his cor­ner, con­ser­va­tive fire­brand Milo Yiannopou­los sued Metro on Wed­nes­day, de­mand­ing the D.C. re­gion’s tran­sit sys­tem re­store ads for his book.

Metro pulled the ads last month af­ter com­plaints from rid­ers, say­ing it had con­cluded be­lat­edly that the ads vi­o­lated guide­lines gov­ern­ing po­lit­i­cally charged ma­te­rial.

Milo World­wide, Mr. Yiannopou­los’s cor­po­rate en­tity, has asked for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion to force Metro to re­store the ads.

The provoca­tive Mr. Yiannopou­los has some un­likely al­lies in his suit, joined by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, Peo­ple for the Eth­i­cal Treat­ment of An­i­mals and Carafem, a non­profit women’s health or­ga­ni­za­tion, each of which wants to run ads Metro has re­jected. The groups say the re­fusals vi­o­late the First and 14th Amend­ments on free speech.

Metro guide­lines don’t al­low health and med­i­cal mes­sages other than from the gov­ern­ment, the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion and the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The tran­sit sys­tem also pro­hibits ads that in­flu­ence the pub­lic on is­sues of vary­ing opin­ions, as well as ads that don’t have a com­mer­cial ben­e­fit and in­tend to in­flu­ence the pub­lic.

The chal­lengers say Metro is en­gag­ing in view­point dis­crim­i­na­tion via the four guide­lines, which they ar­gue are un­con­sti­tu­tional.

“That un­guided dis­cre­tion au­tho­rizes and en­cour­ages dis­crim­i­na­tory en­force­ment against con­tro­ver­sial or un­pop­u­lar view­points, and has re­sulted in dis­crim­i­na­tory en­force­ment against con­tro­ver­sial or un­pop­u­lar view­points,” reads the ACLU’s le­gal com­plaint.

The com­plaint cites a U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing ear­lier this year that held that trade­marks can’t be in­val­i­dated based on the First Amend­ment be­cause gov­ern­ment agen­cies aren’t in the busi­ness of view­point dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Mr. Yiannopou­los orig­i­nally was al­lowed to place ad­ver­tise­ments for his new book, “Dan­ger­ous,” through­out the tran­sit sys­tem. But af­ter com­plaints from the pub­lic about the po­lar­iz­ing fig­ure, Metro said the ads had to be re­moved.

Sherri Ly, me­dia re­la­tions man­ager for Metro, said the tran­sit au­thor­ity adopted its com­mer­cial ad­ver­tis­ing guide­lines in 2015.

Metro “in­tends to vig­or­ously de­fend its com­mer­cial ad­ver­tis­ing guide­lines, which are rea­son­able and view­point-neu­tral,” said Ms. Ly.


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