Security Guard by Day, Constitutional Scholar by Night

Photo courtesy of
‘National Gallery of Art – East Building’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

The latest installment of “security guards in federal buildings need to lay off trying to interpret the Constitution” comes in the form of a couple of security guards at the National Gallery of Art stopping a citizen from entering the Gallery until she removed the pin on her lapel that had a pro-life message on it. Because it’s a “religious” or “political” symbol, the guards seemed to be unclear on which.

To be absolutely fair, Meghan Duke, the Gallery visitor in question, was there the day after the March for Life, when no doubt every guard in every federally-owned building in town has been instructed to ask people to leave signs and other protest-oriented paraphrenalia outside so as to prevent disruptions inside the building.

According to Duke’s account of the incident, however, the guards didn’t ask her to remove the pin in accordance with rules about protest materials (which would have been just as ridiculous as asking her to remove any other small political button), but on the basis that wearing a religious symbol into a federal building is a violation of the First Amendment. Except that when she asked if she could wear a cross necklace, the guards responded that that would be “completely different.” I am speechless.

Here’s an idea for a policy for security guards to follow: Leave the Constitutional interpretation to the courts.

Tiffany Baxendell Bridge is an Internet enthusiast and an incurable smartass. When not heckling the neighborhood political scene on Twitter, she can be found goofing off with her ukulele, Bollywood dancing, or obsessing about cult TV. She is That Woman With the Baby In the Bar.

Tiffany lives in Brookland with her husband Tom, son Charlie, and two high-maintenance cats. Read why Tiffany loves DC.

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One thought on “Security Guard by Day, Constitutional Scholar by Night

  1. While the National Gallery of Art does prohibit visitors from carrying placards and signs into the Gallery, no matter the message, as they may physically harm the art or other visitors, the Gallery does not prohibit lapel pins or buttons. This policy has been reaffirmed with the guard in question who had acted on his own initiative.