Smithsonian will pay $50,000 after students kicked out of museum over pro-life hats

A major national museum in Washington has reached a settlement with tourists more than a year after they were kicked out of the facility for wearing life-saving clothing.

The National Air and Space Museum has agreed to pay $50,000 in attorney fees, expenses, costs and interest in connection with a lawsuit filed by 12 plaintiffs who were asked to leave the facility because they wore pro-life clothing on the day of the March for Life rally on 20- an of January 2023.

The agreement on agreement was filed in federal court on Monday.

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In addition to the monetary settlement, plaintiffs will have the opportunity to visit the museum privately with museum officials and receive a video apology from them.

The plaintiffs are students of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina, and their parents. They all wore hats with the words “Rosary PRO-LIFE” as they toured the museum visiting the Nation's Capital for the annual pro-life gathering on the National Mall.

The American Center for Law and Justice, representing the plaintiffs, reported in early February 2023 that “the museum staff mocked the students, called them guilty, and commented that the museum was a 'neutral zone' where they could not express such statements.”

The legal organization claimed that “the employee who finally forced the students to leave the museum rubbed their hands together in joy as they left the building.”

The plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit accusing the defendants of violating their rights under the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In a statement to The Christian Post last February, a museum spokesperson said the museum's actions constituted an act of wrongdoing and insisted that “asking visitors to remove hats and clothing is not in accordance with our policy or protocols.”

The Smithsonian Institution, which oversees the Air and Space Museum and other museums in Washington, has entered into consent decree agreeing to “reiterate to all security officers stationed at all Smithsonian museums open to the public and the National Zoological Park that Smithsonian policy does not prohibit visitors from wearing hats or other types of clothing with messages, including religious and political speech.”

After the consent decree was issued in March 2023, the American Center for Law and Justice signaled its intention to “enter a period of mediation with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to see if we can get to the bottom of why our clients were targeted. .”

Monday's settlement suggests the law firm was satisfied with the museum's investigative efforts.

“The defendants represent that the Smithsonian Institution has conducted a thorough investigation into the events that occurred on January 20, 2023,” the settlement states.

“In doing so, defendants confirm that Smithsonian officials have identified and spoken with any and all officers of the Office of Protective Services who are known to have been involved or to have participated in the alleged events, as well as with Allied Universal Security Services regarding their officers' involvement in the direction for Plaintiffs to remove their hats.”

As part of the settlement, the Smithsonian Institution vowed to “reiterate by mass distribution method to all security officers stationed at all Smithsonian museums open to the public and the National Zoological Park, the current Smithsonian policy regarding the wearing of hats or other types of clothing with messages, including religious and political speech.”

In December, the National Archives and Records Administration settled a similar lawsuit after National Archives visitors were told they could not wear clothing for life. The museum houses original copies of the US Constitution and other historical documents.


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