Monday, October 01, 2012

Coleman v. AATA Update

The Associated Press reports: "A judge has ruled against the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority [AATA] in a lawsuit that challenges the bus agency's rejection of an anti-Israel ad." The ruling may, however, turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for the Plaintiff, Blaine Coleman, because Judge Mark Goldsmith's "OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND/OR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS" does not, in fact, grant the relief Plaintiff requested in his motion nor does it finally deny the Defendant's motion to dismiss the suit.

As Judge Goldsmith notes: "In his motion for preliminary injunction, Plaintiff requests that the Court enter an order directing Defendants to immediately accept and display Plaintiff's advertisement on terms no less favorable than those given to other advertisers." Opinion at p. 38. Yet, instead of doing that, Goldsmith leaves open the possibility of giving AATA another bite at the apple: "Another option could be to allow AATA to craft a new policy without the constitutional infirmities identified by this opinion." Opinion at pp. 38-39.

On the matter of the defense's motion to dismiss, Goldsmith writes: "Regarding the other issues raised by Defendant's motion to dismiss and not addressed in this Opinion (i.e., viewpoint discrimination and the as-applied vagueness challenge to the 'persons or group of persons' language), the Court will determine whether such issues remain to be adjudicated after it reviews the parties' forthcoming supplemental briefs." Opinion at p. 40.

With such a ruling, it's hard not to wonder if Goldsmith's pro-Israel bias isn't showing and this is all setting the stage for allowing AATA to reject the ad and/or a dismissal of the suit. If that turns out to be the case then it will be a pity that the Plaintiff and his attorneys at the ACLU of Michigan haven't asked Goldsmith to recuse himself. In the meantime local taxpayers will continue to foot the bill as the AATA's lawyers defend their right to violate Blaine Coleman's First Amendment rights. Parenthetically, it should said that the best southeast Michigan coverage of this case, so far, is on AnnArborChronicle.com. Their reporting has been far superior to that of the AP or AnnArbor.com.

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