Court refuses case; sky banner ban stays
By Brian Charlton
By Brian Charlton
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to consider the case of an anti-abortion group seeking to fly planes over Honolulu towing aerial banners with images of aborted fetuses.
The refusal means Honolulu will be able to continue to ban aerial tow-banner operations.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's ruling that the city's ordinance does not violate the First Amendment and is a "reasonable and viewpoint-neutral restriction on speech in a nonpublic forum."
The group has other means of conveying its message, the appeals court said.
The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform has flown its advocacy ads over many other states and argued it should be able to do the same over O'ahu.
The anti-abortion group said it was disappointed but won't give up its quest to fly planes over the island.
"We're not going away," said Gregg Cunningham, director of the Orange County, Calif.-based group. "This case is a very long way from being over."
Hawai'i allows no billboards or other prominent outdoor advertising, although murals of whales and the ocean adorn the sides of buildings. The city banned aerial advertising in 1978.
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said city officials are elated with the high-court action: "It vindicates the economic, aesthetic and safety justifications advanced all along by the city in support of the ordinance.
"Honolulu's ban on aerial advertising is intended to protect the city's world-famous scenic beauty and its attractiveness as a tourist destination, and also serves to prevent potentially dangerous traffic distractions," he said.Advertiser staff writer Robbie Dingeman contributed to this report.