Clay to Appeal Judge’s Rejection of Student Painting

Says it’s a matter of the First Amendment

Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., shown here with Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., in front of the painting by then-Missouri high school student David Pulphus, said freedom of speech should be respected, especially in the Capitol. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Missouri Rep. William Lacy Clay and the winner of a congressional art contest will appeal a judge’s rejection of attempts to return his painting to the U.S. Capitol.

The painting, "Untitled #1," was criticized as anti-police and repeatedly taken down from an exhibit by Republican congressmen before it was ultimately removed by the Architect of the Capitol.

Federal District Court Judge John Bates ruled that since Pulphus’ painting was considered government speech, it was legal for Republicans to order the Architect of the Capitol to remove it, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

But Clay and Pulphus argued that the removal was a violation of Pulphus’ First Amendment Rights.

“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,” a statement said. 

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