ACLU challenges Chapel Hill's removal of bus ad
Posted October 1, 2012 4:21 p.m. EDT
Updated October 2, 2012 10:49 a.m. EDT
Chapel Hill, N.C. — A civil rights group is calling on Chapel Hill officials to keep a political advertisement on town buses.
The ad, which said the U.S. should end military aid to Israel, was sponsored by the Church of Reconciliation, a USA Presbyterian church in Chapel Hill.
Chapel Hill transit officials said the ad was removed briefly in August after about 10 days because it didn't include the required contact information for the church. Officials noted they had received five complaints about the ad, but that wasn't the reason it was pulled.
Now, however, town leaders are considering removing the ad because of its content.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation sent a letter to town officials Friday, urging them to “safeguard cherished First Amendment rights and its reputation as a community welcoming of dialogue” by keeping the ad on town buses.
“The freedom of citizens to express political beliefs without being censored by their government is one of the most basic and cherished rights protected by our Constitution,” Chris Brook, state ACLU legal director, said in a statement. “We urge Chapel Hill officials to stand up for the free speech rights of their citizens by keeping the town’s bus ads open as a forum for public dialogue free of government censorship.”
The ACLU said it received numerous complaints about the ad's removal.