Claudio v. United States
United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
836 F. Supp. 1230 (1993)
The Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act provided that space in federal buildings could be used by the public for cultural purposes. In March 1992, artist Dayton Claudio (plaintiff) contacted Steven Grant (defendant), an officer of the General Services Administration (GSA) (defendant), seeking permission to exhibit a painting in the Raleigh Federal Building. Grant gave Claudio a revocable license to display his painting without asking about the painting’s content. Claudio installed the painting in the building’s lobby while it was still covered. After the painting was mounted, Claudio unveiled a painting in the shape of a crucifix portraying a naked woman, a fetus, and a coat hanger. Grant immediately revoked Claudio’s license, explaining that the painting was political expression about abortion that was not allowed on federal property. Claudio appealed the revocation of his license to the GSA. The GSA affirmed the revocation, holding that the painting could not be displayed in the building because it was about a topic, abortion, that was being considered by federal courts housed in the building, and because it was likely to cause disruption and damage to federal property. Claudio filed a lawsuit in federal district court, alleging that Grant and the GSA had violated his First Amendment freedom of speech by revoking his license. To support his claim, Claudio cited the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Cohen v. California, which held that the government could not prevent a man from wearing a jacket displaying an antidraft message in a courthouse.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Fox, C.J.)
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