But this ad was produced by an organization WMATA treated as an unacceptable advertiser: the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. "WMATA approves the commercialization of Christmas by showing ads depicting gifts and material goods, but unfortunately the portrayal of the reason we celebrate this time of year - the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - is a guideline violation".
"Transit has had a long and checkered history of censoring certain messages", Prof. "The ad in question was declined because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines".
"There are differing opinions between 1% and 2% milk", Turley said.
"Someone [is] sitting there at transit like Caesar.", Turley said.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, attorneys for the archdiocese argue that Metro's ban on subway and bus ads that "promote. any religion, religious practice or belief" has infringed on the organization's First Amendment rights.
The actions WMATA took to stop the archdiocese from advertising on its buses have now been memorialized in a lawsuit the archdiocese filed against WMATA this week. "This campaign, 'The Light Is On For You, ' was remarkably successful for the Archdiocese (and lucrative for WMATA), with advertisements on the backs of 85 buses throughout the metropolitan area". Wording on the ad encouraged riders to "Find the Perfect Gift" through religion.
It should be noted that in addition to the four words found in the ad, there were also three types of images WMATA apparently found disturbing, particularly, it seems, because all three were combined in this one place. Now the archdiocese is suing the agency for violating its First Amendment rights. However, as we all know - the ideal Christmas gift can not be bought.
"Costello had mentioned that if the advertisement had a commercial goal, such as selling goods or services, then the advertisement would be more likely to comply", the lawsuit states.
"The ban has been applied in an arbitrary and unreasonable manner", they add. "WMATA has denied the Archdiocese's "Find the Perfect Gift" advertisements, which contain no explicit references to religion, religious practice, or belief".
The sweeping clampdown on any ads that could be considered politically or socially charged is a significant shift for the transit agency. The ads generally feature a starry night with silhouettes of shepherds and sheep on a hill, and a referral to the internet website FindThePerfectGift.org. Unsurprisingly, the archdiocese explained that it "could not conceive of a way to adjust the advertisement given the goal and message of the campaign".
The dispute is the latest legal fight prompted by the transit agency's aggressive enforcement of stringent guidelines, adopted in 2015, governing what can be advertised on trains, buses and inside stations.
"WMATA's decision to suppress free speech and ban the depiction of a religious scene is saddening and troubling", said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington.