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Judge Dismisses Veterans’ Suit Over Artwork That Shows Flag on Floor

From United Press International

A Cook County circuit judge on Thursday dismissed a suit filed by veterans who want to close a controversial exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago that features an American flag on the floor.

Judge Kenneth Gillis refused to issue a temporary restraining order to a coalition of veterans groups that asked that the exhibit be closed to prevent people from walking on the flag. The judge then dismissed the suit.

“The court has spoken and we will sadly live with the decision,” said Joseph Morris, general counsel for the Mid-America Legal Foundation. “There will be no appeal.”

Meanwhile, a resolution urging the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to remove the display permanently was introduced in the Illinois Senate. The resolution also encourages the Illinois Arts Council to defer state funding to the school until the issue is resolved.

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The resolution was not considered by senators, who adjourned until March 14.

“Veterans organizations and others who have objected to the display do not dispute an artist’s right to free expression but do object to the exhibit’s implicit encouragement of desecration of the flag in violation of state and federal laws,” state Sen. Walter Dudycz of Chicago said.

About 60 veterans protested Monday outside the institute, prompting officials to close the show--the second time such an action has been taken in two years. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue Chicago police because a painting that depicted the late Mayor Harold Washington wearing women’s underwear was seized from the school.

The exhibit is titled: “What is the Proper Way to Display the American Flag?” In it, an American flag lies on the floor beneath photographs of flags, including some draped over coffins.

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