PETA Wins Court Fight to Place Animal-Rights Ads on LA Metro


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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - PETA has won the right to place animal-rights ads on buses in Los Angeles, according to a federal court ruling obtained Tuesday.

LA Metro was hit with a free speech lawsuit last year brought by PETA, challenging the transit agency's advertising policy and apparent refusal to allow the ads on its buses.

According to PETA, Metro's policy permits popcorn chicken ads from Jack in the Box, but refuses to allow "I'm Not Popcorn Chicken" ads from PETA.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles federal court against Metro and its CEO, Stephanie Wiggins, alleges violations of the animal-advocacy group's First Amendment rights.

Dave Sotero, a Metro spokesperson, said the agency had not yet reviewed the ruling and therefore was not able to comment.

In a written ruling issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Sunshine Suzanne Sykes granted summary judgment to PETA, finding that Metro's general prohibition on such advertisements is unconstitutional.

Sykes rejected Metro's argument that because the ads were noncommercial, approval by a government agency is required. PETA countered that such a prohibition amounts to a prior restraint on speech and viewpoint discrimination, particularly since Metro has allowed other noncommercial ads, including one from United Way about ending homelessness.

In the suit, PETA claimed that before trying to run its pro-chicken ad, it tried to place a "Wear Vegan" ad with Metro. Both ads feature nongraphic imagery and a simple, straightforward appeal to practice kindness to animals, the suit says.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to eat, wear, or abuse in any other way" -- opposes speciesism, a "human-supremacist" outlook.

The first ad, which PETA wished to run on public transport three years ago, featured a sheep and a message imploring readers to wear vegan clothes. The second ad, proposed over the summer, featured a chicken and urged viewers to go vegan, and was in direct response to ads Metro had previously run promoting popcorn chicken from Jack in the Box, the lawsuit states.

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