National Archives agrees to pay $10,000 to pro-lifers told to remove anti-abortion swag

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Three pro-life activists have reached a $10,000 settlement with the National Archives after security targeted their anti-abortion swag following the 2023 National March for Life.

The consent order filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said that the three plaintiffs would collectively receive $10,000 to settle the federal lawsuit filed in February after they were told to remove or cover their pro-life attire, or be forced to leave the museum.

“This is an especially important victory, as one month from today, pro-life Americans will once again gather in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life,” said Jay Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented the activists.

The 2024 National March for Life is scheduled for Jan. 19 at the National Mall, an annual event timed to the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a national Constitutional right. The ruling was overturned in June 2022.

“Our victory today ensures that they will be free from harassment and that their First Amendment rights will be protected should they choose to visit the National Archives and view the very documents that protect those sacred rights,” Mr. Sekulow said.

The center’s three unnamed clients — described as a grandmother, a law student, and a student at a Catholic high school — were among multiple visitors who said they were confronted last year by security at the National Archives and the Smithsonian over their pro-life attire.

Two of the clients said they were told to remove or cover a T-shirt with the message “Life is a HUMAN RIGHT,” and a button that said “Pro-Love is the New Pro-Life.”

VICTORY! National Archives Will Pay Pro-Life Students Thousands After Forcing Them to Remove Their Pro-Life Shirts

— (@LifeNewsHQ) December 26, 2023

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly’s consent order said that the National Archives and Records Administration is enjoined from prohibiting visitors from wearing “t-shirts, hats, buttons, etc., that display protest language, including religious and political speech.”

The administration also agreed to turn over a report disclosing the identity of the security guard who gave the order; ensure that its employees and contractors understand that such apparel is allowed, and provide the plaintiffs with an apology and a private tour.

“NARA regrets the events on January 20, 2023, and has reminded all NARA’s contract security officers at NARA’s facilities across the country of the rights of visitors,” said the seven-page settlement document signed Dec. 19 by Judge Kelly.

The settlement covers “all claims by Plaintiffs for, attorney’s fees, expenses, costs, and interest in connection with this matter,” the order said.

Mr. Sekulow said that the National Archives “was not the only federal institution to engage in this unlawful discrimination against pro-lifers.”

“We stand ready and able to defend the First Amendment rights of pro-lifers in our nation’s capital next month,” he said. “If you or your children are discriminated against in a federal building because of your pro-life or religious views, please reach out to us at”

He added that the ACLJ is “working to ensure that no federal institution can target and discriminate against pro-lifers – especially on the day of the March for Life.”

The theme for the 2024 National March for Life is “With Every Woman, For Every Child,” signifying an emphasis on the support offered by pro-life pregnancy centers and organizations for women facing an unplanned pregnancy.

“Pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes nationwide are here to walk alongside you when the path is unclear,” said the March for Life in a November video. “So we will walk — no, we will march, with every woman, for every child. Because that is what it means to be pro-life.”

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