In Frederick Douglass Foundation, Inc. v. District of Columbia,  (DDC, March 26, 2021), the federal district court for the District of Columbia refused to enjoin enforcement of D.C.’s Defacement Ordinance against two groups that organized an anti-abortion demonstration. Protesters attempted to paint or chalk the streets with their slogan Black Pre-Born Lives Matter.” The court rejected plaintiffs’ free speech, equal protection, RFRA and free exercise claims. Plaintiffs claim that the Ordinance is enforced in a viewpoint discriminatory manner in that Black Lives Matter” and Defund the Police” protesters were not prosecuted. The court said in part, however:

It seems far more plausible, rather, that law enforcement opted against enforcing the Ordinance [against Black Lives Matter protesters] in light of the foreseeable risks of intervention in the moment — e.g., inflaming what may well have already been a tense, fervent, and chaotic protest scene.

Religion Clause: Anti-Abortion Protesters Lose Challenge To D.C.’s Defacement Ordinance

The Court here is probably realistic. But I’d have been comfortable with the opposite result because public officials primp and preen as supporters of Black Lives Matter” and Defund the Police” protesters instead of admitting they’re powerless to stop them.

March 31, 2021

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