^
Keep New Times Free
4
| Guns |

Alan Korwin Wins Appeal Against Phoenix in Censoring of Pro-Gun Ads at Bus Stops

Firearms activist Alan Korwin has won his appeal against the city of Phoenix's ban on his pro-gun ads at bus shelters.

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled today that a lower court, which previously had sided with the city, must reverse course and stop the city from rejecting Korwin's ad.

But it's a win based on a technicality of sorts, and stops well short of forcing the city to accept every ad submitted by the public.

See also: -Alan Korwin Fight With Phoenix in Appeals Court Over Censoring of Pro-Gun Ads

The ad (as you can see above) features the text "Guns Save Lives" within a large, red heart and hundreds of words in small print about Arizona gun laws, and promotes Korwin's for-profit website, trainmeaz.com.

Korwin had purchased the bus-shelter space for his ad back in 2010, but the city took them down after a complaint. Although the city claimed the ad violated its policy that demanded ads provide "adequate notice" of a commercial transaction, Korwin claimed that a city official had told him that his ad was controversial and therefore received extra scrutiny. The official later claimed she couldn't recall saying that to Korwin.

The Arizona Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a brief supporting Korwin in the case, noting that the Arizona Constitution has an arguably more-liberal interpretation of free speech than the First Amendment: "Every person may freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right."

Yet the unanimous decision by Judge Kenton Jones, Acting Presiding Judge Patricia Norris and Chief Judge Diane Johnsen makes it clear the city has the power to place some restrictions on free speech that occurs on government property, providing its rules are applied consistently. In fact, most of today's ruling disagrees with Korwin's arguments.

The city can deem certain properties, like bus shelters or the ad-panels on the sides of buses as "non-public" forums with restrictions on free speech, the judges ruled. And even though the city's rules must be applied consistently, the city doesn't need to "exercise absolute and inerrant consistency" in its review of the many ads it receives, they wrote.

What it came down was the fact that the city's argument was based on language from its 2009 ad standards, not its 2011 revision of those standards. "The City's contention that Appellant's advertisement fails the 2011 Standards because it is not 'limited to' a commercial transaction is nowhere supported by the language of the 2011 Standards," the judge wrote.

The order sends the case back to trial court, with the caveat that the city is not allowed to reject Korwin's ad based on the 2011 standards. That apparently means Korwin's ads are free to go up at bus shelters, if he still wants them to.

Korwin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Click here to read the 17-page opinion on the case of Alan Korwin vs. City of Phoenix.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.