Mediation Begins in ACLJ Lawsuit Against National Archives for Targeting and Harassing Pro-Life Visitors


Jordan Sekulow

April 12, 2023

4 min read

Pro Life



When a federally funded (aka taxpayer-funded) institution decides to target pro-life visitors by harassing and humiliating them, it doesn’t get to just sweep it under the rug after being caught.

The ACLJ legal team is about to face off with the National Archives in mediation for our case beginning on April 13th. Someone gave the order to go after pro-lifers, and we will find out who it was and why.

Remember when security guards at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., confronted one of our clients, a pro-life grandmother who had come to see our nation’s Constitution with her granddaughter after having just participated in the March for Life that morning? Our client was ordered to remove her pro-life clothing or else leave the museum. Imagine someone telling that to your grandmother.

As we told you at the time:

The ACLJ is now representing four clients who were a part of three separate groups and visited the National Archives at three separate times on January 20th. All of our clients were told by National Archives employees that they had to take off their religious, pro-life apparel or leave the museum.

When one of our clients questioned the order, a National Archives security officer said that the apparel would “incite others” and that she was “disturbing peace.” Yet another one of our clients was told that her T-shirt was “offensive” and had to be covered up or removed. Her shirt read simply, “MARCH 4 LIFE 2014: Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group, Glen Carbon, IL.”

What’s worse, that wasn’t even the only federal institution to engage in this targeted harassment of pro-lifers in our nation’s capital THAT DAY. As we reported, security staff at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum confronted a group of students from a Christian school who had also attended the March for Life. The students were wearing hats with their school’s name and the words “Pro-Life.” They were taunted and insulted by Smithsonian staff before being essentially chased out of the museum. It’s completely outrageous.

We filed two separate lawsuits in defense of both the freedoms of speech and religion against the National Archives and the Smithsonian for this intolerable harassment of pro-life kids and adults alike. Likely since they knew they were busted, the National Archives quickly agreed to enter into a consent order and preliminary injunction, essentially barring it from targeting pro-life visitors ever again. It also had to apologize to our clients. The Smithsonian likewise entered into a similar consent order and preliminary injunction.

As we reported, the National Archives also had the contracted officers who harassed the pro-lifers removed from their assignment to the museum. But that’s not enough.

Admitting it was a mistake and removing the officers is all well and good after the fact. But the real question yet to be answered is who gave the order to target pro-life guests in the first place? Museums and institutions like the National Archives, as well as the Smithsonian, receive financial support from the federal government, provided by you and me through our taxes. I can assure you that if I were to show up at a museum that my taxes help pay for and found myself being turned away – and even cursed at or insulted for my pro-life views – I’d be livid, to put it mildly.

That’s why we didn’t drop our lawsuit or just accept their public apology. Someone needs to explain why this happened, because it seems clear that someone powerful decided to put a target on the backs of pro-life men, women, and even kids who were simply trying to have a nice afternoon experiencing a bit of our country’s history. Why? Because they’d attended a historic, peaceful rally to defend unborn babies?

That is a gross violation of their constitutional rights, and it will not go unanswered. Otherwise, who will target pro-life Americans next? Schools? Hospitals? We have to draw the line here and now.

We will continue to keep you updated on this case as well as on our lawsuit against the Smithsonian for the same egregious discrimination.