Dem Rep. Will Appeal Decision To Remove Constituent Painting Of Animal Cops

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 5: A controversial painting by Missouri student David Pulphus depicting police as animals hangs in the tunnel connecting the U.S. Capitol to the Cannon House Office building as part of the ann... UNITED STATES - JANUARY 5: A controversial painting by Missouri student David Pulphus depicting police as animals hangs in the tunnel connecting the U.S. Capitol to the Cannon House Office building as part of the annual student art exhibit on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. The painting was selected as the 2016 Congressional Art Competition winner from Rep. William Lacy Clay's district in the St. Louis area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) MORE LESS
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A Democratic congressman from Missouri and his constituent will appeal a district court’s decision in an attempt to restore a painting of police brutality to the U.S. Capitol Building, they announced Tuesday.

On Friday, D.C. Federal Circuit Court Judge John D. Bates rejected Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and his constituent David Pulphus’ attempt to re-hang “Untitled #1,” Pulphus’ work depicting Ferguson, Missouri police as animals. Pulphus had won the Congressional Art Competition in Clay’s district, entitling him to a spot on the Capitol walls, subject to approval from the Capitol Architect, Stephen Ayers.

In 2014, a Ferguson police officer shot and killed the unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, prompting nationwide protests. Pulphus has said “the art speaks for itself.”

Bates said in his decision that, rather than being subject to First Amendment protections, Pulphus’ painting had been selected by Clay, a member of Congress, and was subject to the approval of Ayers, the defendant in Clay and Pulphus’ lawsuit. Therefore, Bates said, “Untitled #1” qualified as government speech and could be removed if the Ayers decided it didn’t meet competition rules.

“Our nation was founded on the very principle of freedom of speech, and there are few places where that core freedom warrants greater respect than the U.S. Capitol,” Clay and Pulphus said in a statement announcing their appeal Tuesday. “That is why we are confident that the U.S. Court of Appeals will eventually vindicate not only our legal rights, but those of the American people. We believe our Constitution simply cannot tolerate a situation where artwork can be removed from the Capitol for the first time ever as a result of a series of ideologically and politically driven complaints.”

Clay and Pulphus noted that the painting had hung in the Capitol for more than six months before Republican members of congress — at first just Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) — suddenly began removing it in January, objecting to its depiction of police. Clay re-hung the painting every time it was removed until Ayers, the Capitol Architect, announced that it violated the competition’s rules against “depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy” or those of a “sensationalistic or gruesome nature.”

Volleys over the painting, occurring in the two weeks prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, often grew tense. One video, published Jan. 10 by RollCall’s Alex Gangitano, shows Republican congressmen delivering the painting to Clay’s office themselves:

Judge Bates, though he rejected Clay and Pulphus’ request for a preliminary injunction against the painting’s removal, seemed to acknowledge the that Ayers’ actions were not simply a result of “Untitled #1” violating the rules.

He noted that two other pieces were judged to have violated the competition’s rules in June 2016. One, “Recollection,” depicted bullet holes in an individual’s back. Another depicted Bob Marley smoking pot. They were both allowed to be shown in the Capitol.

“There is little doubt that the removal of the painting was based on its viewpoint,” Bates wrote.

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  1. Avatar for pshah pshah says:

    Freedom of speech everywhere, except in the halls of Congress.

    Insider trading illegal, expect for Congress people.

    Got it. Any other double standard I should know of?

  2. Same with guns.

  3. Fuckin’ hypocrites…

  4. A GW Bush appointee to the bench in 2001.

    But here’s his real qualification:

    “From September 1995 until leaving in March 1997, Bates worked as Deputy Independent Counsel for Kenneth Starr and the Independent Counsel’s office during the investigation into President Bill Clinton.”

    – Wikipedia

    Yeah, I totally trust that guy.

    Edit: His application of “government speech” to this exhibition is something Gorsuch would like. 'Nuff said.

  5. Avatar for paulw paulw says:

    Does the judge have the facts of the case correct? It sounds as if the picture was chosen by some kind of a judging panel, not directly by the member of congress. And there’s no question that there was content-based discrimination, applied under pressure. (I think the real problem here is that the judge doesn’t want to make an official finding the the architect of the capitol has committed an unlawful act, because that would likely trigger all kinds of other mess. Yeah, I know that’s not why judges should make particular rulings)

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