Mayor Offers ‘Unfathomable’ Defense in Case Alleging Discrimination Against Truckers
Washington, D.C. — The mayor of Washington D.C. is claiming she was well within her power to deny a trucking group’s request to paint “Trucker Lives Matter” on a city street.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) exclusively reported in September of 2020 that the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the District of Columbia against Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) claiming she discriminated against the 15,000-member group’s First Amendment rights of free speech.
The SBTC sought a permit to paint its “Trucker Lives Matter” logo on New Jersey Ave. SE, directly in front of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT).
The request was denied citing it was “not feasible,” despite Mayor Bowser allowing other “similarly expressive” “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police” murals to be painted along 16th Street, also in 2020.
In a new filing asking the Court for summary judgement, Mayor Bowser argues the”Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police” murals were commissioned by her, and thus constitute “government speech” which is “not subject to First Amendment scrutiny.”
“It is well-established that the government’s display of works of art is squarely within the purview of government speech and is not subject to First Amendment scrutiny,” writes D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. “When it chooses artwork for public display, a government is also entitled to ‘select the views it wants to express.’ In so doing, the government does not trigger an obligation to allow other viewpoints to be similarly expressed.”
Further, A.G. Racine asserted commissioning the murals was in the public interest in order to “restore a sense of calm” and “send a message that District streets are a safe space for peaceful protestors” following the widespread rioting after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
In response, SBTC President James Lamb told TNN Mayor Bowser’s defense “defies reason.”
“It is truly unfathomable that the District of Columbia would have us all believe that the trademarked slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the left’s call to ‘Defund the Police’ are somehow ‘government speech’,” he blasted. “The DC Government did not pass a resolution declaring ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Defund the Police’ are the official positions of the District’s government.”
Further, Lamb asserted, “A mayor calling to defund her own city’s police department, while violent rioters loot, burn and kill, is an abominable departure from reality that will not withstand judicial scrutiny.”
TransportationNation.com will continue to follow the case.