Gorsuch: Supreme Court’s rejection of Metro ad ban case won’t be last word on religious speech

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the Catholic Church’s demand to display pro-Christmas ads in the D.C. metro system, but one justice warned that this would not be the high court’s last word on this religious speech issue. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch said it was a clear-cut case of viewpoint discrimination when the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority put the kibosh on the church’s Christmas ad. He said the ad would have been allowed without question had Macy’s sponsored it. “Once the government allows a subject to be discussed, it cannot silence religious views on that topic,” Justice Gorsuch wrote in a statement joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. If Macy’s or Amazon wanted to run a Christmas ad with silhouettes of reindeer and the words “Find the Perfect Gift,” that would have been permitted, the archdiocese argued while noting that its 2017 advertisement depicting shepherds could not be placed on the sides of buses. Justice Gorsuch reasoned that the government can’t permit a forum for art and music but then forbid Handel’s “Messiah” or Michelangelo’s “David.” “And once the government declares Christmas open for commentary, it can hardly turn around and mute religious speech on a subject that so naturally invites it,” he said. The Archdiocese of Washington brought the case after WMATA rejected its 2017 ad with the shepherds and sheep. The transit agency cited a policy that barred it from promoting or opposing religion through advertisements.

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