AIDS Walk Denied Restraining Order in Big Blue Bus Ad Suit

Federal judge says longtime AID Walk Los Angeles' producer failed to prove the city's prohibition on non-commercial advertising is "unreasonable" or "viewpoint-based."

Santa Monica won't be forced to allow AIDS Walk Los Angeles advertisements on the Big Blue Bus.

A federal judge denied on Tuesday a request by the event's longtime producer for a temporary restraining order against the city, saying he failed to show the ban on non-commercial ads is "unreasonable, viewpoint-based, or enforced in [a] manner that violated Plaintiffs’ Equal Protection rights."

Further,  "a non-commercial ban on advertising on municipal buses is constitutional provided the restriction is reasonable and view-point neutral," U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner affirmed in his one-paragraph ruling.

The Big Blue Bus' advertising policy prohibiting all non-commercial advertising has been on the books for the past decade, but was only recently enforced.

"The city is pleased," City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie said in a statement.  "The court reaffirmed cities' authority to place reasonable limits on bus advertising, which is exactly what Santa Monica has done."

The lawsuit was filed by Craig Miller, who began producing AIDS Walk Los Angeles in 1985, and fellow Santa Monica residents Lisa Brisse and Paloma Bennett.

The event is California's largest AIDS fundraiser. It will take place Sunday, Oct. 14 in Los Angeles and West Hollywood. More than 30,000 participants are expected to attend.

According to the suit, AIDS Walk has spent between $27,000 and $40,000 on Big Blue Bus campaigns annually for the past six years.

The city is in the midst of reviewing the rules after protests from the event organizers earlier this month. It has denied requests to temporarily allow the ads because that would open the buses to becoming "public forums," permitting expression of all kinds under the First Amendment—including offensive messages—the City Attorney's office has said.

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