Judicial Watch said it filed a civil rights lawsuit against Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and other officials for First Amendment violations after the group’s request to paint “Because No One Is Above the Law!” on a D.C. street went unanswered.
What are the details?
In early June, Bowser — a far-left Democrat — instructed the city’s Department of Public Works to paint “Black Lives Matter” in huge letters that spanned two blocks on 16th Street leading directly to the White House. The project coincided with massive George Floyd protests and riots around the country and in D.C.
Bowser also renamed a section of the street “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and said “we want to call attention today to making sure our nation is more fair and more just and that black lives and that black humanity matter in our nation.”
She also authorized or allowed “Defund the Police” to be painted alongside “Black Lives Matter,” Judicial Watch said.
Judicial Watch said it sent a letter to Bowser a few days later requesting permission to paint “Because No One is Above the Law!” — using letters of identical size and color to those spelling out the “Black Lives Matter” painted phrase — on another D.C. street near its headquarters located close to Capitol Hill. Judicial Watch said it offered to pay for the cost of the painting and “citing the timely nature of the issue, asked for a response in three days.”
But the outlet said it “has yet to receive a substantive response” from Bowser’s office after three weeks of emails.
Judicial Watch said its lawsuit alleges D.C. officials violated federal civil rights law with respect to:
(a) allowing District streets to be used for the painting of expressive messages, which constitutes protected, First Amendment activity, but denying Plaintiff (Judicial Watch) the timely opportunity to paint its expressive message on a District street for reasons that are not narrowly drawn to achieve a compelling government interest; (b) failing to provide a reasonable basis for denying Plaintiff the timely opportunity to paint is expressive message on a District street; (c) favoring the expressive messages painted on 16th Street NW and/or creating the appearance of endorsing those messages to the exclusion of Plaintiff’s message on a related subject matter; and/or (d) failing to provide reasonable, non-arbitrary processes and procedures for timely consideration of Plaintiff’s request to paint an expressive message on District streets.
“Mayor Bowser gave us the runaround rather than access, as the First Amendment requires, to a D.C. street to paint our timely message and motto: Because No One is Above the Law!” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Our message is especially relevant today because it applies equally to law enforcement and public officials as well as to protesters, looters, and rioters.”
Judicial Watch also said it formally asked Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday for permission to paint “Because No One Is Above the Law” on a street — preferably Fifth Avenue between 81st and 83rd Streets — after he announced that “Black Lives Matter” would be painted on prominent streets in all five boroughs.