NRL News

National Archives apologizes to students kicked out of Smithsonian for wearing pro-life hats

by | Feb 15, 2023

The apology comes shortly after a conservative legal group filed a religious discrimination lawsuit on behalf of the pro-lifers. 

By Jean Mondoro

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, the United States National Archives and Records Administration issued an apology to pro-lifers who were told to cover up pro-life attire while visiting a Smithsonian Museum after the National March for Life. 

The apology comes shortly after the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed a religious discrimination lawsuit on behalf of the pro-lifers. 

“Earlier this week, a lawsuit was filed against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) stating that on the morning of January 20, 2023, the day of the March for Life, several visitors to our museum in Washington, D.C., were told by NARA security officers to ‘remove or cover their attire because of their pro-life messages’,” reads a February 10 statement from the federal agency.  

“As the home to the original Constitution and Bill of Rights, which enshrine the rights of free speech and religion, we sincerely apologize for this occurrence.” 

The press release continues: 

NARA policy expressly allows all visitors to wear t-shirts, hats, buttons, etc. That display protest language, including religious and political speech. We are actively investigating to determine what happened. Early indications are that our security officers quickly corrected their actions and, from that point forward, all visitors were permitted to enter our facility without needing to remove or cover their attire. We have reminded all of our security officers at our facilities across the country of the rights of visitors in this regard.

NARA added that it “cannot comment further” due to the ongoing lawsuit.  

“The ACLJ is now representing four clients who were a part of three separate groups and visited the National Archives at three separate times on January 20,” Jordan Sekulow, the ACLJ’s executive director, wrote in a February 9 article. “All of our clients were told by National Archives employees that they had to take off their religious, pro-life apparel or leave the museum.” 

The complaint against the federal institution alleges violations of free speech protected by the First Amendment, equal protection as outlined in the Fifth Amendment, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Members of the victimized groups noted that while their pro-life apparel was deemed “offensive” by NARA officials, other museum visitors wearing slogans such as “my body, my choice” were not challenged by federal employees. 

“The fact that there were multiple instances of targeted discrimination in at least two federal buildings on the same day against pro-life advocates is no coincidence,” Sekulow continued. “Where there were two, there are likely more. We will not stop until we get to the bottom of this, achieve justice for our clients, and ensure that this never happens again. No one should be targeted by the federal government for their Christian and pro-life views.” 

The events leading to the lawsuit against the National Archives is not the only case of discrimination which took place on January 20, the 50th March for Life in the nation’s capital and America’s first since the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade. As previously reported by LifeSiteNews, a group of Catholics from Our Lady of the Rosary school in Greenville, South Carolina, were kicked out of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for wearing hats with the words “Rosary PRO-LIFE” printed on them. 

Following the incident — which was publicized on social media by a mother of a student with the group — ACLJ attorneys took the case to court. Both lawsuits against the Smithsonian and the National Archives are ongoing. 

Editor’s note. This appeared at LifeSiteNews and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Pro-Lifers