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Archdiocese appeal over Christmas ads on Metrobuses back in federal court

Fifteen bus alerts were in place Tuesday and some of the routes are affected for the next few days, according to information on Metro's website. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit will hear the latest arguments Monday in the lawsuit brought by the Archdiocese of Washington against Metro. The lawsuit was filed after Metro banned the archdiocese’s ads from its buses at Christmastime.

The Archdiocese of Washington sued Metro in November 2017 after the transit agency rejected its Christmas season ads that urged worshippers to “Find the Perfect Gift.”

The lawsuit claimed the ad “conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

According to the church’s original lawsuit, Metro denied these ads through a lawyer because it “depicts a religious scene and thus seeks to promote religion.”

Metro’s internal guidelines prohibit “advertisements intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions” and “advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice, or belief.”

In early December 2017, a U.S. District Court judge sided with Metro and denied the Archdiocese’s request for an injunction that would force Metro to post the ads. The archdiocese immediately appealed, but the U.S. Court of Appeals took the same stance as the lower court.

On Jan. 13, The Justice Department threw its support behind the Archdiocese of Washington in the court fight.


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