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Pro-Life Win: National Archives Museum Settles in Discrimination Lawsuit

by | Dec 26, 2023

By Hannah Hiester

Three pro-lifers settled a lawsuit against the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C. last week after museum security guards allegedly targeted them in January for wearing clothing with pro-life messages.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, L.R., Wendilee Walpole Lassiter, and Terrie Kallal, agreed to settle for a total payment of $10,000 from the museum. As part of the settlement, the museum also promised it would implement measures to ensure that such discrimination does not occur again, according to CNBC.

“The plaintiffs should not have been asked to remove or cover articles of clothing expressing their religious and other beliefs, and [the National Archives and Records Administration] regrets that this happened,” Judge Timothy Kelly wrote on December 19 in a consent order.

The incident occurred when the three pro-lifers visited the National Archives Museum on January 20, 2023 after participating in the March for Life. After they entered the building, security guards ordered them to remove or cover clothing that bore pro-life messages.

According to the complaint, both L.R. and Kallal are devout Catholics, while Lassiter is a Protestant. 

The plaintiffs’ “religious beliefs compel them to speak out against abortion through prayer, education, and support of pro-life causes whenever they have an opportunity to do so,” the complaint stated. 

The complaint argued that the guards violated the pro-lifers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression. 

Multiple security guards confronted the pro-lifers independently at three different times during the day of January 20. L.R. and her classmates were told to remove or cover their pro-life clothing first, which the teen found ironic given her location at the time.

“[The security guard] told me to take off my pro-life pin as I was standing next to the constitution that literally says Freedom of Speech on it,” L.R. stated in the complaint.

L.R. also noted that though she and her classmates were required to cover the pro-life messages, the gift shop featured several LGBTQ-themed t-shirts and pins with “expressive statements.”

Lassiter, a law student from Virginia, was hectored 20 minutes later as she passed through the metal detector. According to the complaint, a security guard told her “You have to take your shirt off. Your shirt will incite others … You’re disturbing the peace.”

Lassiter complied but later noticed that other visitors were allowed to wear clothing with pro-abortion statements without attracting any comments from the security team.

Kallal and her granddaughter were also told to zip up their coats to conceal their pro-life t-shirts.

CNBC reported that the museum will also pay the pro-lifers’ attorney’s fees and legal expenses. The museum has also removed the security supervisor responsible for targeting the pro-lifers.

Editor’s note. This first appeared at Catholic Vote and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Judicial