Congressman files federal lawsuit after removal of painting - KMOV.com

NEW DETAILS

Congressman files federal lawsuit after removal of painting

Posted: Updated:
The office of Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay has announced he intends to file a federal lawsuit Tuesday over the removal of a constituent's painting from its Capitol Hill display. (Credit: AP Photo/Zach Gibson) The office of Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay has announced he intends to file a federal lawsuit Tuesday over the removal of a constituent's painting from its Capitol Hill display. (Credit: AP Photo/Zach Gibson)
In this Jan. 18, 2015, file photo, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., speaks during a church service at Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Mo. Lacy faces state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal in the Aug. 2, 2016. (Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File) In this Jan. 18, 2015, file photo, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., speaks during a church service at Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Mo. Lacy faces state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal in the Aug. 2, 2016. (Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

By KEVIN FREKING / Associated Press & KMOV.com Staff

WASHINGTON (AP/KMOV.com) - Congressman William Lacy Clay has filed a federal lawsuit in response to what he claims is the “arbitrary and unconstitutional disqualification and removal” of a controversial painting.

The painting depicts protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that erupted after a police shooting of an unarmed black man.

The painting depicts a pig in a police uniform pointing a gun at a protester. It was one of 400-plus winning entries in the Congressional Arts Competition.

It was on display for more than seven months, but the Capitol architect removed the painting last month after some lawmakers complained.

The congressman issued the following remarks regarding the lawsuit and paining:

David’s remarkable painting…Untitled #1…had been on peaceful public display for seven months in the Cannon tunnel of the U.S. Capitol complex…along with all the other winning entries from across the nation.

His artwork was initially reviewed, accepted and approved for public display under the very same standards and criteria that apply to all student entries in this prestigious, annual competition.

And yet, after being viewed repeatedly by Members of Congress, congressional staffers, and thousands of visitors without incident or concern;

David’s painting was wrongly disqualified and removed from the public exhibit at the direction of the Architect of the Capitol who shamefully chose to retroactively censor and suppress Mr. Pulphus’ artwork in response to the enormous political pressure he experienced from the Speaker of the House and certain right-wing media outlets.

We contend that action was unfair, arbitrary and unconstitutional.

And beyond that injustice…this intolerable and unprecedented action by the Architect of the Capitol has not only deprived my constituent of his 1st Amendment rights;

It has also sent a chilling message to young Americans that their voices are not respected; their views are not valued; and their freedom of expression is no longer protected in the U.S. Capitol.

So this case is truly about something much bigger than a student’s painting, it is about defending our fundamental 1st Amendment freedoms which are currently under assault in this country.

And that includes the right to artistic expression…even when that creativity is considered objectionable by some, and applauded by others.  That right is strongly protected by Supreme Court precedent.

I am seeking an appropriate remedy through this federal litigation and I’m proud to defend both the fundamental rights of my constituent and the 1st Amendment.

And I would also like to thank my exceptional, pro bono legal team:

Leah Tulin, of Jenner & Block…a former Federal District court law clerk;

James Williams, of Chehardy, Sherman, Williams...a former civil court district judge;

And Kymberly Everson, of the Pacifica Law Group.

As a Member of Congress who reveres the Constitution…I am confident that justice will prevail.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly