MTG, Ted Cruz demand Smithsonian uphold 1A rights after removing pro-life students from Air and Space Museum

"What efforts have you taken to ensure that the First Amendment rights of all Americans are respected at the Air and Space Museum and an incident like this never occurs again under your leadership?"

Congressional Republicans are demanding answers after the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum booted a dozen Catholic high school students and their chaperons for wearing hats embroidered with pro-life messages while on a field trip on January 20.

According to Fox News, Representatives Chip Roy and Josh Brecheen wrote a letter along with more than two dozen fellow Republicans including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Dan Crenshaw demanding answers from the Smithsonian. They were joined by Republican members of the Senate including Tim Scott, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Mitt Romney.

The letter asked, "Does the Smithsonian have any policy prohibiting pro-life sentiments from being expressed in its buildings or any policy deeming it a 'neutral zone.’ What efforts have you taken to ensure that the First Amendment rights of all Americans are respected at the Air and Space Museum and an incident like this never occurs again under your leadership?"

"On January 20, 2023, thousands of Americans from across the country traveled to Washington, DC to participate in the March for Life. For many participants the occasion was inviting, warm, and educational," the letter added.

"Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a group of pro-life Americans from South Carolina. Following the march, students were allegedly harassed by Smithsonian Institute employees at the Air and Space Museum for their pro-life and human rights affirming apparel and were expelled from the building."

Rep. Ronny Jackson, (R-TX), tweeted, "The fact that pro-life students were cursed at and KICKED OUT of the Air & Space Museum by Smithsonian staff is a DISGRACE. People need to be fired. This should’ve NEVER happened!!"

Some Republicans are calling for the employees involved to be fired and for the Smithsonian to be sued as the institution is a federal entity that receives over $1 billion in federal funds each year.

According to Fox News, one of the employees who asked the students to remove their beanies said the pro-life hats were "not promoting equality."

One of the students asked why a nearby museum patron was allowed to wear a pride mask.

As the group of students eventually left the employee told them they "don't need to wear their hats to leave the building." 

Alison Wood, the museum's deputy director of communications, told Fox News, "Asking visitors to remove hats and clothing is not in keeping with our policy or protocols. We provided immediate training to prevent a re-occurrence of this kind of incident and have determined steps to ensure this does not happen again.”

This is not the first time the institution has been in hot water over political ideology. In 2020, the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture released a "guide" to understanding whiteness. Some of the determining characteristics include "rugged individualism," "family structure," "the scientific method," "history," "work ethic," "aesthetics," "holidays," "justice," "competition," "communication," "plan[ning] for the future," and "decision making," among a long and substantive list.

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