Congressman to File Lawsuit over Banned Painting

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Democrat Representative Lacy Clay will reportedly file a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Architect of the Capitol for removing from the Capitol complex a painting by one of Clay’s constituents that depicted police officers as feral pigs.

The painting by student David Pulphus portrayed a confrontation between black protesters and “pig” police officers with guns drawn. Removal of the painting followed outcry from House Republicans and police advocacy groups. Clay’s district includes the city of Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager in 2014, sparking surges of protest.

Clay intends to argue that removal of the painting violated Pulphus’s First Amendment rights to free expression.

Pulphus’s painting was displayed in the Capitol complex last June after it was awarded a prize in an annual high school student art competition between House offices. Conservative media outlets noticed it in December, prompting several House Republicans to remove the painting from its place in a tunnel connecting the Capitol and nearby House office buildings. Clay replaced it three times in one day.

The Architect of the Capitol later determined that the painting violated House Office Building Commission rules prohibiting artwork of sensationalistic nature or that features contemporary political subjects.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sought to appeal the decision, but was outnumbered on the House Office Building Commission, which is controlled by the majority party.

Following the removal of the painting, Clay announced he would hang it in his congressional office.

When Clay files the lawsuit in Washington, D.C, he will reportedly be assisted by pro bono legal counsel.

H/T: The Hill

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