Archdiocese to press appeal on Metro ad ruling to full DC Circuit

WASHINGTON — The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington plans to ask for a rehearing of an appeals court decision that sided with Metro in a dispute over advertisements in the transit system.

In a court filing Friday, the church indicated it will ask the full D.C. Circuit to hear the case. It is up to the court to decide whether to do that, since a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court already heard the case and sided with Metro.

Last fall, the Archdiocese of Washington submitted ads to Metro that evoked the three wise men, and promoted the church’s “find the perfect gift” website, which encouraged attending church during Advent.

Metro rejected the ads since they violated a ban on religion-related advertising adopted in 2015 as part of Metro’s broader ban on issue-based ads. That ban was meant to head off controversies, vandalism and threats.

The archdiocese then asked a court to force Metro to carry the ads, but that court sided with Metro for now.

The church’s challenge is one of several to Metro’s ban on issue-oriented ads. Last week, a different three-judge panel of the same federal appeals court sent one of those cases back to a U.S. District Court judge for further proceedings. That panel cited the July ruling in the archdiocese’s case.

Metro has won most of the initial rulings in cases challenging the three-year-old ad policy.

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