Am. Freedom Defense Initiative v. Metro. Transp. Auth., No. 15-1997 (2d Cir. Mar. 3, 2016).
The American Freedom Defense Initiative, or AFDI, is an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as an “active anti-Muslim group.” It organized last year’s Muhammad-cartoon-drawing contest in Garland, Texas. The AFDI wanted to put up this ad on New York city buses:
The New York City transit authority—the MTA—refused to put up the ad, and the AFDI sued.
The district court ruled that the MTA had violated the First Amendment, and it entered a preliminary injunction. Meanwhile, the MTA changed its rules for what advertising it would and wouldn’t allow on its property. In light of this change, the district court dissolved its earlier injunction. The parties eventually stipulated to an award of nominal damages to the AFDI.
This appeal concerns only the district court’s decision to dissolve the preliminary injunction. The Second Circuit affirms that decision, reasoning that because AFDI’s challenge is to MTA’s old rules, its lawsuit is moot. Whether MTA’s new rules are constitutional remains an open question.
CORRECTION (3/10/16): An earlier version of this post did not contain the case name or a link to the opinion. Those gaps have now been filled.