WASHINGTON – A court order issued Sunday allowed a pro-life group to hold a demonstration on Pennsylvania Avenue during President Clinton’s Inaugural Parade.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed a lower-court ruling, which had denied the Christian Defense Coalition’s right to demonstrate.
The appeals court ruling allowed 25 demonstrators to participate, but moved them to a block of Pennsylvania Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets. The group had sought to demonstrate between Ninth and Tenth streets, where the Inaugural Committee had already set up bleachers.
“The government may not render the Inaugural celebration a private event or change the character of a quintessential public forum – the sidewalks lining the parade route – by taking upon itself the status of permittee,” the appeals court wrote in its order.
Members of the coalition on Monday held signs depicting aborted fetuses as the presidential motorcade made its way from the Capitol to the White House. One sign read: “The Children of Hillary’s Village.”
The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the 10,000-member coalition, joined in the demonstration. “This order is a tremendous victory for the free speech rights of all Americans,” he said.
The National Park Service had originally denied the coalition’s request to demonstrate on Pennsylvania Avenue, saying the Inaugural Committee had first dibs on the spot. Spokeswoman Sandra Alley said the demonstrators were “well-behaved.” -30-