NH joins coalition of states oposing Fla. Freedom of Speech ruling

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COCORD - New Hampshire has joined a coalition of 26 states that are filing a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Florida's Hillsborough County Transit Authority's no-religious-speech advertising policy.

The coalition urged the Court to review the policy because it infringed on the First Amendment rights of a Jewish synagogue, Young Israel of Tampa, to advertise on public transportation in Tampa.

"This is all about upholding religious liberty and the fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The policy of this transit authority 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," said Attorney General John M. Formella. "By joining this coalition of states, we are not only standing up for the rights of the Jewish synagogue involved in this case, but for all religious organizations to freely express their beliefs without discrimination. We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to review this case and reaffirm that the First Amendment protects religious expression from unjustified government interference."

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) rejected Young Israel of Tampa's proposed advertisement for its "Chanukah on Ice" event because it was religious. And it accepted another group's advertisement for its "Winter Village" event because it was not religious. Under HART's no-religious-speech advertising policy, that singular difference--that one ad was religious, and the other was not--led the government entity to reject "Chanukah on Ice" and accept "Winter Village."

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