In case you missed it last week, a judge ruled that the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) and its advertising agent, On the Move Advertising, had to put up atheist bus ads that it had previously rejected:
One of the weird parts of the ruling, as I had mentioned before, was that the United Coalition of Reason would be forced to put up $15,000 toward “damage” costs if they wanted their ads to go up. Basically, I took that to mean if the atheist bus ads were damaged, the money was a down payment toward replacement ads. (Originally, CATA and On the Move Advertising wanted $36,000 but the judge lowered the amount.) Turns out I wasn’t exactly right about that.
Now that the official ruling is available (PDF), we have some further clarification on that.
Here’s what the judge wrote:
Because a defendant who has been wrongfully enjoined has no recourse for damages in the absence of a bond, Rule 65(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court may issue a preliminary injunction only if the movant gives security in an amount that the court finds proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained… The Court must consider the necessity of a bond in any case where a preliminary injunction is granted.
In light of the express language of Rule 65(c), the purpose of the bond requirement, and evidence presented at the preliminary injunction hearing that the display of [United CoR’s] ad in other localities led to vandalism and the destruction of property, the Court finds that a security in the amount of $15,000 is appropriate.
In other words:
If the buses get damaged and the defendants can prove it was because they ran the atheist ads, they’re entitled to some or all of the $15,000.
If they can’t prove it — or if no vandalism occurs at all — United CoR gets the money back.
***Edit***: I should have noted above that the only way United CoR won’t get the money back is if CATA/On The Move Advertising proves that 1) vandalism occurred 2) because of the atheists’ advertisements and 3) they took the case to a full trial and won (reversing the hearing judge’s decision). In other words, it seems like a long shot that United CoR will not get its money back.
I still think this is backwards. Instead of giving a green light to Christian vandals to damage the ads, the law is giving them the green light to damage the buses — all on the atheists’ dime.
I hope that doesn’t happen.
United CoR is taking the chance that it won’t. They’ve decided to go forward with paying the $15,000 in order to get their ads up on buses.
It won’t be long before we see the ads show up in Little Rock. And if all goes well, United CoR will get its “damage” money back at the end of the run.