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A flag bearer marches toward veterans of the Chicago Honor Flight at the World War Two Memorial in Washington Oct. 2, 2013. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) A flag bearer marches toward veterans of the Chicago Honor Flight at the World War Two Memorial in Washington Oct. 2, 2013. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)  

WWII Memorial opens for First Amendment activities

Photo of Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

The federal government has opened the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. for First Amendment activities, according to a new sign at the memorial site.

“Due to the Federal Government shutdown, this National Park Service area is closed, except for 1st Amendment activities,” according to a new sign at the memorial.

A First Amendment advocacy group said that it took the threat of a lawsuit for the National Park Service to partially open the site.

“On Monday, we delivered a demand letter to the National Park Service, putting it on notice that they would be sued if they refused to honor Americans’ First Amendment rights,” American Center for Law and Justice [ACLJ] executive director Jordan Sekulow wrote Wednesday.

“Today — one day after the Obama Administration opened the National Mall for a pro-amnesty immigration rally — I sent an ACLJ legal team back to the World War 2 Memorial, and they were not only able to access the memorial, the signage had changed … to illustrate that the [National Park Service] was respecting the First Amendment,” Sekulow said.

The government’s shutdown-related closure of the memorial sparked outrage from citizens and lawmakers. Veterans who first breached barriers around the memorial last week were allowed access on First Amendment grounds.

Sekulow told The Daily Caller that the First Amendment sign went up today.

“The new sign was literally going up as we were there,” he said.

Park Service Rangers previously told Sekulow that there are First Amendment exceptions in place for visitors, but were initially confused as to how to enforce those policies.

“It’s not necessarily their fault, but they had no idea what to do,” Sekulow said of the Park Service Rangers in his visits to the memorial prior to Wednesday. “They were haphazardly opening the gates when congressmen were showing up, but they weren’t letting [individuals] in. So if you were not in a group, you had no First Amendment rights.”

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