After the Arizona legislature passed Constitutional carry in 2010, Alan Korwin started a billboard and transit ad campaign called TrainMeAZ to promote gun safety instruction among other things. Unfortunately, the City of Phoenix censored the transit ads by removing them because, in their words, it didn’t meet their ad standards. Korwin promptly sued and was aided in the lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute.
Last October, the trial court found for the City of Phoenix and denied the motion for summary judgement by the Goldwater Institute. The case has been appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief in support of the Goldwater Institute and Alan Korwin.
From the press release announcing the brief:
ACLU, GOLDWATER INSTITUTE TEAM UP ON FREE-SPEECH CASE
ON BEHALF OF GUN-SAFETY-BUSINESS OWNER
Unlikely alliance between organizations highlights case’s importance to fundamental freedoms
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Goldwater Institute’s appeal in Korwin v. Cotton, a free-speech challenge to Phoenix’s transit advertising standards that were applied to remove 50 “Guns Save Live” advertisements from the city’s bus shelters.
“This case has profound implications beyond whether Appellants can post their proposed advertisement on City of Phoenix bus shelters,” the ACLU’s brief argues. “It involves the scope of the Arizona Constitution’s grant to all persons the right to freely speak, write and publish on all subjects.”
The City’s policy forbids non-commercial advertising on city buses and transit shelters. In 2010, plaintiff Alan Korwin and his company, TrainMeAZ, purchased 50 transit shelter ads designed to drive business to their gun-training website. The ads pictured a large heart with “Guns Save Lives,” followed by the group’s website.
Even though the ads were commercial in nature, the City removed the ads, despite approving “Jesus Heals,” Veterans’ Administration, and water-conservation advertisements that did not appear to propose a commercial transaction.
“The City’s arbitrary decision-making is exactly the type of censorship the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions forbid,” said Clint Bolick, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, who characterized the City’s policy as “we sort-of know it when we see it.”
The Maricopa County Superior Court (a lower court) upheld the City’s actions in a 2012 decision. The case is now before the Arizona Court of Appeals.
“This odd-couple alliance between the Goldwater Institute and the ACLU highlights the importance of the case to our fundamental freedoms,” said Bolick.
The case is expected to be argued in the Court of Appeals later this year.
A copy of the ACLU amicus brief can be found here under “Case Documents”: http://goldwaterinstitute.org/article/korwin-v-cotton-bus-shelter-ads-case
“I am thrilled to see the ACLU get behind this case,” said Alan Korwin, the Appellant in the case and an ACLU member for decades, “It is the right thing to do. Phoenix was out of its mind to tear down our bus-stop ads in the middle of the night without notice. http://www.trainmeaz.com/news-room/
I have supported many of ACLU’s efforts on free speech, and they figured prominently in my 12th book about things you’re not allowed to say, Bomb Jokes at Airports. http://www.gunlaws.com/BJAA.htm
“This case is about free speech, which is central to everything I’ve been doing as a writer and publisher for nearly three decades,” he said. http://www.bloomfieldpress.com “It is particularly gratifying though that the substance here is gun safety, at a time when the national scene is dominated by efforts to restrict gun rights for the public.”