The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that the government cannot censor peoples’ speech, even if it makes the government itself look bad. But that doesn’t stop bureaucrats from trying.
In recent years, we’ve taken government-run transit agencies to court (and won!) over their refusal to run White Coat Waste Project (WCW) ads that exposed taxpayer-funded animal experiments that entail giving puppies heart attacks, forcing kittens to eat cat meat from Chinese wet markets, and hooking monkeys on heroin overseas.
Now, we’re suing DC’s government-run transit system for its illegal rejection of WCW ads based on its unconstitutional and nonsensical policy stating that it bans all, “advertising intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions.”
In April 2023, we asked the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (DC Metro, for short) to run the following ad art featuring WCW’s investigations of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) $2 million “Coke Hounds” experiment on puppies and a $1.5 million “hamster fight club” funded by the NIH and National Science Foundation:
We even proposed this simple ad that just includes our name, logo, and tagline. DC Metro rejected this one too.
These aren’t partisan issues, as most taxpayers oppose government animal experiments. Indeed, our Hamster Fight Club and Coke Hounds investigations raised the ire of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and a bipartisan coalition led by Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) and Nancy Mace (R-SC).
But, DC Metro is violating the First Amendment (as well as the Fifth and Fourteenth) to play defense for government white coats wasting billions of our money on outdated and stupid animal experiments like these.
In 2021 and 2022, we also attempted to run DC Metro ads to educate taxpayers, lawmakers, and agency bureaucrats in the nation’s capital about Dr. Fauci’s funding of biting fly experiments on beagles and dangerous gain-of-function experiments at the Wuhan animal lab that experts believe caused the pandemic. The ads were censored, and we were outright rejected then, too, based on the same unconstitutional policy.
In short, DC Metro’s blanket prohibition on any ads seeking to influence public opinion is simply unconstitutional. We’re suing to permanently overturn DC Metro’s illegal ad censorship policies and seeking injunctions to compel the agency to run WCW’s ads and stop it from enforcing its unconstitutional ad policies while the lawsuit is underway.
As we frequently say, taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent. That’s not just a nifty axiom, either. It’s the law!
WCW is represented in this case by The Law Office of Matthew Strugar and Vanessa Shakib of Advancing Law for Animals.