Thursday, December 21, 2017

DC Circuit Refuses Injunction Pending Appeal In DC Religious Bus Ad Case

In Archdiocese of Washington v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, (DC Cir., Dec. 20, 2017), the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit refused to issue an injunction pending appeal to prevent enforcement of a WMATA advertising policy that rejects bus ads which promote religion, religious practices or religious beliefs.  Earlier this month, the district court upheld WMATA's rejection of an ad from the Archdiocese promoting its "Find the Perfect Gift" Christmas campaign. (See prior posting.)  In denying the motion for an injunction, the Court of Appeals said in part:
Appellant has failed to establish a substantial likelihood of success because, at least at this early pre-discovery procedural stage, Appellant’s argument of discriminatory treatment is grounded in pure hypothesis. Appellant has not come forward with a single example of a retail, commercial, or other non-religious advertisement on a WMATA bus that expresses the view that the holiday season should be celebrated in a secular or non-religious manner.
The court did order an expedited briefing schedule, and urged the parties to limit the use of abbreviations, including acronyms, in their briefs.  Washington Post reports on the decision.