Atheist Group Takes CATA to Court – KATV Ch. 7
Posted: Jun 01, 2011 9:50 PM CDT
An Atheist group is taking a local transit authority to court.
The United Coalition of Reason (United COR) filed a federal lawsuit today against the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) along with their advertising agency On the Move advertising claiming their First Amendment speech was violated after trying to advertise which stated “Are you good without God? Millions are.”
United COR wanted the buses to have these bulletins by Riverfest.
Gerry Schulze said he’s a member of United COR and he’s also the attorney representing them in this lawsuit. “Once they throw their advertising space open, it should be open without discrimination,” said Schulze.
He said On the Move Advertising charged them $5,000. On top of that total, On the Move asked for an insurance deposit incase any bus suffered damage because of the ad’s message. Shulze said in the nearly 40 cities where this ad is already running, if there’s vandalism it’s graffiti.
“Here, we’re being told well we want you to put up $36,000 dollars plus provide us a million dollar insurance policy because we’re afraid someone will through a Molotov cocktail at the bus,” said Shulze.
CATA’s attorney, Jess Sweere said they never refused the advertisement.
“In order to protect themselves, they felt it was appropriate to request a refundable damage deposit,” said Sweere. He said United COR was the first to be asked to provide a deposit, but there’s a reason for it.
“We’ve never received information from any of the other advertisers that their ads were subject to receiving vandalism,” said Sweere.
He said they’re willing to work through negotiations even without a deposit.
“It appeared that they were more interested in getting free publicity by filing a lawsuit than paying for the ads,” said Sweere.
Shulze said it is absolutely not for just publicity.
“We wouldn’t have paid for advertisements in 36 different jurisdictions, if all we really wanted to do was file a lawsuit.” CATA has used churches as advertisers in the past.
It will be in Judge Jay Moody’s court.