October 5, 2018

Partner Kymberly Evanson Argues Free Speech Appeal in D.C. Circuit

On September 28, 2018, Pacifica Law Group Partner Kymberly Evanson presented oral argument in the D.C. Circuit in Pulphus v. Ayers, a case challenging the removal of a painting from the Congressional Art Competition on the basis of its viewpoint. Pacifica lawyers Kymberly Evanson and Athan Papailiou have represented Congressman William Lacy Clay (D) Missouri and student artist David Pulphus in their challenge to the painting’s removal since early 2017. The painting had been peacefully displayed at the U.S. Capitol for nearly seven months as a winner of the Competition until Congressional Republicans and right-wing media pressured the Architect of the Capitol to remove it. Congressman Clay asserts that the removal violates both the rights of the young artist and his own First Amendment rights.

The crux of the appeal is whether the Competition is “government speech” and therefore outside the protection of the First Amendment (as the lower court ruled) or whether the Competition is a nonpublic forum in which viewpoint discrimination is prohibited. A decision is expected in the coming months.