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26 states support Supreme Court case for synagogue-denied holiday ad

“The transit authority brazenly targeted religious speech as the object of its discrimination,” stated Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

Gavel. Credit: Katrin Bolovtsova/Pexels.
Gavel. Credit: Katrin Bolovtsova/Pexels.

The rejection by a state agency of a Florida synagogue’s advertisement for a “Chanukah on Ice” event has resulted in a Supreme Court case supported by more than half of America’s states on the grounds of religious freedom.

A coalition of 26 states joined to advocate on July 5 for Young Israel of Tampa, which wanted to place ads for a holiday gathering, after the Hillsborough County Transit Authority denied such on the grounds of a “no religious speech” advertising policy.

The authority, however, had accepted a similar ad for a “Winter Village” event with no religious mention.

“By unlawfully denying a Jewish synagogue’s proposed holiday advertisement solely because it was religious, the transit authority brazenly targeted religious speech as the object of its discrimination,” stated Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

He said the coalition “recognizes that such discrimination is a direct attack on the First Amendment, and we look forward to continuing our support of Young Israel.”

Alabama had previously organized two multistate briefs in support of Young Israel at the Eleventh Circuit court.

John M. Formella, attorney general of New Hampshire, called the goal of the case to uphold “religious liberty and the fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

The policy of the transit authority, he said, “to censor religious speech while allowing similar non-religious speech is not only discriminatory but also unconstitutional. The government has no place in determining which religious viewpoints can be expressed in public forums.”

The 24 other supporting states included Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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