APRIL 17, 2013
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 Lives” advertisements from the city’s bus shelter.
“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 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"