I recently received a fund-raising letter from the Human Life Foundation, written by Maria McFadden. It contained this anecdote:
Just last week I heard from a friend of mine, Larry, who was attending a conference in Washington, D.C. Larry wanted to use the underground parking garage at the Ronald Reagan World Trade Center. Usually, you just flash your driver's license and pop your trunk open, and the attendant glances inside, then waves you on in.
This is standard post-9/11 security at the few federal buildings in Washington that have public parking. But what happened to Larry, a faithful reader of the Human Life Review, was different.
When Larry pulled up at the Reagan Building, he was told to wait. Four armed parking attendants surrounded the van. They asked him to take his driver's license out of his wallet so they could inspect it more closely. They asked him to open the van and they looked around in it.
He asked why the special treatment for him. One of the attendants pointed to the pro-life and pro-adoption slogans on the van, and said such political statements were not allowed in the building.
Larry asked the guards to call their supervisor, which they did. The supervisor approved the van to park, but forbade Larry to take anything out of the van into the building once parked.
Well, let's hope Larry didn't need a laptop or briefcase or, indeed, anything he couldn't carry in his pockets, for the conference he was attending.
I'm going to go waaay out on a limb here and guess that Larry's pro-life bumper stickers were not remotely suggestive of any advocacy of violence. For that matter, I've never even seen a pro-life bumper sticker that was remotely suggestive of violence.
So what cat, exactly, did the attendant let out of the bag when he told Larry why he was being given special security treatment? Was he saying that pro-life sentiments, specifically, were not allowed in the building? It seemeth to me that any such policy would be a direct violation of a kajillion First Amendment court precedents. Was he saying that no political bumper stickers are allowed in the building? Don't make me laugh. A public parking garage in Washington, D.C., doesn't permit any political bumper stickers? You've gotta be kidding. Not to mention the aforesaid kajillion SCOTUS precedents on freedom of, specifically, political speech.
If only the attendant's explanation had been recorded.
What say you, readers? Do you think security at federal parking garages in D.C. really has a policy of not allowing people with pro-life bumper stickers to park? Or a policy of harassing them extra? If so, what, if anything, can be done about it?
P.S. Here's the parking page at the Reagan building. It says you need to show ID and your vehicle will "be screened." Obviously, it says nothing about a prohibition on political bumper stickers.