Friday, January 28, 2005
More First Amendment News
In a surprising, and rare, moment of clarity, the United States Justice Department has recognized that the First Amendment applies to groups advocating an end to the war on drugs.
An advertisement criticizing marijuana laws was rejected by the Washington D.C. Metro last year, due to a law entitled the "Ishtook Amendment". The law threatened to cut off more than $3 billion in federal funding to local transit authorities who accept advertisements critical of current marijuana laws.
In June, a federal judge struck down the law on First Amendment grounds, and the Justice Department had until this past Wednesday to appeal that ruling. They will not appeal. In a letter to Congress, Acting Solicitor General, Paul Clement wrote, "The government does not have a viable argument to advance in the statute's defense."
One group, Change the Climate, had its last ad on the metro system in October of 2003. They are planning a new campaign.
According to Forbes, "following [the District Court Judge's] ruling, the Washington system displayed a paid ad in September that showed a group of ordinary people standing behind prison bars under the headline, "Marijuana Laws Waste Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to Lock Up Non-Violent Americans." Amen.