WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the artist who painted a controversial and divisive painting that depicts cops as pigs, citing the First Amendment as the basis for his suit.
“This case is truly about something much bigger than a student’s painting,” Rep. Clay said in front of the E. Barrett Prettyman federal courthouse Tuesday, according to The Hill. “It’s about defending our fundamental First Amendment freedoms which are currently under assault in this country.”
— Lacy Clay MO1st (@LacyClayMO1) February 21, 2017
We should not be sending a msg to young people that if they don't align w/ a political stand, that it's not ok. – Rep. Raskin and Rep. Clay. pic.twitter.com/Hp4XkrrDZn
— Jenny Vasquez (@JennVasquez_DC) February 21, 2017
According to Breitbart News’s legal analyst Ken Klukowski, “The Supreme Court has always held that there are certain legal controversies that federal courts lack jurisdiction to decide under what is called the political-question doctrine.” He noted that the situation regarding this painting is one of those “since it involves a coequal branch of government—Congress—deciding how to decorate its own legislative facilities.”
To better illustrate this, Klukowski said, “A court ordering President Trump on how to decorate the White House or Congress on how to decorate the Capitol shows disrespect to an independent branch of government.” He added, “The Constitution does not empower the courts to issue such a decision.”
Clay chose to display the painting, completed by student David Pulphus, in the U.S. Capitol complex. It appears to represent the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, one of the district’s Clay represents. Pulphus’s painting was selected out of several works of art entered in an annual congressional competition.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) initially removed the painting in January.
Clay reportedly called for Hunter to face “theft” charges for removing the anti-cop painting.
Several days later, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) rehung the controversial picture saying: “It’s about defending the Constitution.” Rep. Clay is a member of the CBC.
Congressional Black Caucus to rehang "Police as Pigs" painting tomorrow saying: "It’s about defending the Constitution.”
— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) January 9, 2017
The following day, Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Brian Babin (R-TX) removed the anti-cop painting from the walls of the U.S. Capitol complex again, mere hours after Clay and other Democrats had replaced it on the wall.
Breitbart News reported that the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York, and the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose Police Officers Associations had all asked House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to have the painting removed.
The group reportedly issued a joint statement on the matter: “This false narrative portrays law enforcement professionals as posing a danger to the very communities we serve. That is untrue, and this ‘art’ reinforces this false narrative and is disrespectful on so many levels.”
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