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Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told Fox News’ “The Story” Friday that his organization filed a federal lawsuit against Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser after their request to paint an “apolitical” slogan on a Capitol Hill street was given “the run-around” for weeks.
Fitton told host Jon Scott he has sought to paint the non-profit group’s motto “No One Is Above The Law” on a street near its office and claimed Bowser’s reticence appears to be because she disagrees with the message.
“That’s not proper under the Constitution,” he said. “Remember, the city painted ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the city also allowed to be painted, ‘Defund the Police’. It’s hard to argue that that can take place, yet a request like we are making can’t.
“When you start denying access to a public forum — now, which the streets are according to the mayor’s own actions — you’re running up against the First Amendment. That’s why we’re in federal court.”
Fitton said his organization gave the District every opportunity to allow them access to the asphalt, including offering to pay for the slogan painting themselves but had no luck
“The government obviously can have certain restrictions about how it is done,” he said. “They initially said, ‘Well, I don’t know if it’ll work because it might interfere with traffic.'”
However, Fitton noted, a street has been closed near the location of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ painting close to the White House.
“We’re just getting the run-around…”
According to Fitton, Judicial Watch is also seeking to paint “No One Is Above The Law” on an Uptown section of Fifth Avenue in New York City after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to have “Black Lives Matter” painted at multiple locaitons throughout the city.
When Scott asked what might stop another group from trying to paint their slogan on a city street, Fitton responded that there is no legal way to prevent such action since Bowser sanctioned the initial “Black Lives Matter” painting.
“This is the consequence when a government starts playing games,” He said. “If they are going to start picking winners and losers on issues … the result is they have to follow the law.”
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In a statement on their website, Judicial Watch said they spent three weeks emailing with the mayor’s office but “have yet to receive a substantive response to [our] street painting request.”
“Our lawsuit argues that DC [sic] officials denied timely access to Judicial Watch to paint its own expressive message and violated federal civil rights law in allowing District streets to be used for the painting of expressive messages, which constitutes protected First Amendment activity, but denying [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.”
The statement added that the District of Columbia appears to be “favoring the expressive messages painted on 16th Street NW [Black Lives Matter] and/or created the appearance of endorsing those messages to the exclusion of Plaintiff’s message on a related subject matter.”
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