The US. District Court for the District of Columbia recently denied a preliminary injunction seeking the reinstallation of a controversial “anti-police” painting at the U.S Capitol complex.
David Pulphus, a student artist from Missouri’s First Congressional District, and William Lacy Clay, the congressional representative for that district, filed a lawsuit claiming that their First Amendment rights to free speech were infringed upon when the Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers, removed Pulphus’s painting from a display of student art.
Pulphus’s painting was selected to represent Clay’s congressional district in the 2016 Congressional Art Competition, and was hung in the Cannon Tunnel in the U.S. Capitol complex in June 2016 with the other winning artwork. The painting was removed several months later by the Architect of the Capitol (who oversees the competition), after receiving several complaints that the painting was “anti-police.”
The Court prefaced its opinion stating that “[a]lthough the Court is sympathetic to plaintiffs given the treatment afforded Pulphus’s art, under controlling authority this case involves government speech, and hence plaintiffs have no First Amendment rights at stake.”
Read the Court’s opinion here.