Smithsonian Facing Potential Lawsuits After Apparently Kicking Out Pro-Life Students, GOP Demands Answers

(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Gretchen Clayson Contributor
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The renowned Smithsonian Institute is facing potential lawsuits and the scrutiny of Republican leaders in Congress after reportedly removing pro-life students from one of their museums during the March For Life event in Washington, D.C., on Jan 20.

Students from Greenville, South Carolina, traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the National March for Life, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Afterwards, the students made their way over to the Air and Space Museum where they were reportedly told by museum officials they would be forced to leave unless they removed their matching pro-life beanie hats emblazoned with “Rosary PRO-LIFE,” the ACLJ stated.

Students were reportedly told the museum was a “neutral zone” where they weren’t allowed to express statements despite, as one student pointed out, other museum patrons sporting “pride” masks, according to Fox News.

“As Members of Congress, we are unaware of any laws, rules, or regulations prohibiting members of the public from wearing pro-life hats inside Smithsonian office buildings. Furthermore, there is a large body of jurisprudence reinforcing citizens’ First Amendment rights on public property,” Republicans Congressional leaders wrote in a letter to the institution obtained by Fox News.

“As a federal entity and the recipient of more than $1 billion in federal funds every year, there should be no debate as to whether the First Amendment applies to the Smithsonian. We are deeply concerned about this unjust expulsion of young Americans from museums—subsidized with taxpayer dollars—for wearing apparel that your staff disagreed with,” the letter concluded. (RELATED: Cruz Urges Black History Smithsonian To Include Clarence Thomas)

The Smithsonian released a statement confirming that the incident was not in line with their policy or protocols. “We provided immediate training to prevent a re-occurrence of this kind of incident, and have determined steps to ensure this does not happen again,” Alison Wood, the museum’s deputy director of communications stated, according to Fox News.

The ACLJ is currently representing six students and two parents. The law firm has stated they informed the Smithsonian to prepare for litigation over the incident.