Not what you're
looking for? Try an advanced search.
Buy This Entire Record For
BYNUM v. UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE BOARD
March 31, 2000
REVEREND PIERRE BYNUM, PLAINTIFF,
UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE BOARD AND UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to
dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, and
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, Reverend
Pierre Bynum, alleges
that the United States Capitol Police prohibited him from praying
in the United States Capitol in violation of the Free Speech and
Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment, the Due Process
Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the Religious Freedom Restoration
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb. Reverend Bynum seeks an injunction
against further enforcement of the policy and practice of treating
prayer as a form of prohibited demonstration in the Capitol.
Upon consideration of the parties' cross motions for summary
judgment, their supplemental memoranda, and the oral argument
presented by counsel, the Court concludes that plaintiff's motion
for summary judgment should be granted and defendants' motion to
dismiss or for summary judgment should be denied.
Each week, an estimated 500 private and guided group tours
traverse the United States Capitol, reflecting on the historic
significance of such areas as the Rotunda, the Washington
cornerstone, Statuary Hall and the old Supreme Court chambers.
Defendants' Statement of Material Facts About Which There is No
Genuine Issue ("Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts") ¶ 2. In
any given year, the United States Capitol welcomes over 1.5
Unlike the grounds surrounding the Capitol, which historically
have been the site of numerous demonstrations, there has been a
ban on demonstrations inside the Capitol since 1946 when Congress
decreed: "It shall be unlawful for any person or group of
persons willfully and knowingly — . . . to parade,
demonstrate, or picket within any of the Capitol Buildings."
40 U.S.C. § 193f(b)(7). The United States Capitol Police are
responsible for enforcing this ban. 40 U.S.C. § 212a. Believing
that the Capitol Police needed guidance in determining what
behavior constitutes a "demonstration," the United States Capitol
Police Board issued a regulation that interprets "demonstration
activity" to include:
parading, picketing, speechmaking, holding vigils,
sit-ins, or other expressive conduct that convey[s] a
message supporting or opposing a point of view or has
the intent, effect or propensity to attract a crowd of
onlookers, but does not include merely wearing Tee
shirts, buttons or other similar articles of apparel
that convey a message.
Traffic Regulations for the Capitol Grounds § 158; see Declaration
of Inspector Christopher M. McGaffin ("McGaffin Decl.") ¶
3.*fn1 According to the government, the ban on demonstration
activities includes prayer "unless it is conducted in the
authorized use of the Chapel, or in a designated room upon
invitation of a Member." Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶
On Sunday, November 3, 1996, plaintiff Reverend Pierre
Bynum, the Associate Pastor of Waldorf Christian Assembly in
Waldorf, Maryland, led a "prayer tour" of the United States
Capitol for the group Capitol Hill Prayer Alert.*fn3 During
the prayer tour, Reverend Bynum led a small group of people to
various historic sites in the Capitol. Plaintiff's Statement of
Facts Not In Dispute ("Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts") ¶¶ 1,
27, 29. While viewing the Washington cornerstone for two to
three minutes, Reverend Bynum and his tour group "consider[ed]
the historic interpretive aspects of the site . . . [and] praye[d]
and meditat[ed] on topics related to the historic interpretation
offered by Reverend Bynum." Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts
¶ 33. The few moments of prayers were in a quiet, conversational
tone, during which the members of the group bowed their heads and
folded their hands. Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 26;
Transcript of September 16, 1997 Motions Hearing at 4. The tour
group caught the attention of one Capitol Police officer who
commented: "[N]ow that is a demonstration," or words to that effect.
Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ 34.
As the tour group arrived at Statuary Hall, another Capitol
Police officer approached Reverend Bynum and, after determining
that his group had been seen praying elsewhere in the building,
told him that praying in the Capitol was illegal because the
Capitol Police consider praying to be a form of prohibited
demonstration. Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 38-42.
After the officer told Reverend Bynum he would be arrested if the
praying continued, Reverend Bynum and the tour group continued
their prayer tour of the Capitol, but omitted the outward
appearance of praying: they no longer folded their hands, closed
their eyes or bowed their heads. Id. ¶¶ 43-46. While Reverend
Bynum and his group were able to finish their tour, their
perception was that they did so "under surveillance by United
States Capitol Police officers." Id. ¶ 47.
After the November 3, 1996 incident, Reverend Bynum's legal
counsel wrote to John T. Caulfield, General Counsel of the
United States Capitol Police Board, regarding Reverend Bynum's
experience. Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction ("Pl.'s
Mot. for Prelim. Injunction"), Exh. 1 (Declaration of Reverend
Pierre Bynum) ¶¶ 47-48. In response, Mr. Caulfield informed
Reverend Bynum's counsel that certain changes regarding tours in
the Capitol had been instituted in order to accommodate the
significant crowds that visit the Capitol during peak season. Mr.
Caulfield's letter also spoke to the regulation that led to the
November 3 incident, suggesting that the Capitol Police believe
that prayer is prohibited in the Capitol:
As you may be aware, demonstrations are prohibited in
the U.S. Capitol and the Capitol buildings. Therefore,
tours would be a permissible activity provided that they
are not a demonstration that is conducted in such a
manner as to have the purpose, propensity or effect of
drawing a crowd of onlookers or involves expressive
conduct that conveys a message supporting or opposing a
point of view.
Pl.'s Mot. for Prelim. Injunction, Exh. 2 (May 2, 1997 letter from
John T. Caulfied, United States Capitol Police, to James Matthew
Henderson, Sr., American Center for Law and Justice). After
receiving the letter from Mr. Caulfield, plaintiff filed this
A. First Amendment Forum ...
Buy This Entire Record For