National Archives Apologizes to Pro-Lifers

( – The emotional and bitter battle over abortion touches every aspect of American life, including what government agencies think about the messages Americans wear on their clothing.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has issued an apology to pro-life plaintiffs who filed suit against the agency after NARA security officers told pro-life visitors to cover up the anti-abortion sentiments on their shirts.

NARA has also entered into an agreement with the plaintiffs that affirms visitors’ rights to wear shirts with such political messages. It has also offered to give the plaintiffs a personal tour of the archives.

Through the American Center for Law and Justice, the pro-life plaintiffs filed suit against NARA after, they said, NARA staff told them to cover up their shirts during a tour on January 20th, 2023. Pro-life activists recognize January 20th as the day the March for Life takes place, a protest against abortion.

NARA’s apology acknowledged the awkward nature of the allegations, that the agency housing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was alleged to have stifled the legitimate political and religious speech of Americans visiting these founding documents that secure those rights.

The apology said these documents “enshrine” free speech and the right to free religious practice, and that the Archives “sincerely” apologizes for the incident.

NARA and the two individual plaintiffs came to an agreement as part of a filing in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The order, if granted, would prevent the museum from ejecting visitors based on the speech contained on their clothes or accessories worn on their clothes. The order also recommends formal mediation between the plaintiffs and NARA.

The Smithsonian Institution and NARA both agreed that their security staff were in error when they tried to make visitor entry conditional on those visitors covering up their political protest speech.

Of course, the first amendment to the US Constitution forbids the government from barring political or religious speech.

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