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The Smithsonian Ordered to Pay $50K to Pro-Life Youth Group That Was Kicked Out

The Smithsonian Ordered to Pay $50K to Pro-Life Youth Group That Was Kicked Out

The National Air and Space Museum has agreed to pay $50,000 to a group of young visitors who were booted from the museum for wearing pro-life attire.

The incident, which took place on January 20, 2023, following the March for Life rally in Washington D.C., involved a dozen students from Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina, and their chaperones. The students were touring the museum while wearing beanies with “Rosary PRO-LIFE” written on them. However, National Archives guards told the students they needed to either cover or remove their beanies or leave the museum.

According to the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented the students in the lawsuit, museum staff not only made fun of the students and “yelled expletives” at them, but also kicked them out “with glee,” while others wearing hats with all sorts of messages weren’t bothered at all.

“It’s absolutely outrageous, it’s unconstitutional discrimination, and the ACLJ is fighting back,” said Jordan Sekulow, an attorney and executive director of the ACLJ. “This was a clear-cut First Amendment violation, not only of their freedom of speech but of religion as well. The federal government simply cannot ban speech with which it or its employees disagree.”

In response to the lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs, the Smithsonian Institution, which oversees the National Air and Space Museum, entered into a consent decree, acknowledging the mishandling of the situation. The agreement stipulates that the museum must reaffirm its policy allowing visitors to wear clothing with messages, including religious and political speech. Additionally, the Smithsonian not only agreed to pay $50,000 to the plaintiffs but also offered them a private tour of the National Air and Space Museum along with a video apology from museum officials.

This settlement comes on the heels of a similar agreement reached by the ACLJ in December with the National Archives and Records Administration over a comparable incident involving visitors wearing pro-life attire.

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