A Christian minister filed suit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, and others for the fence surrounding the Capitol. Reverend Patrick Mahoney, a Presbyterian minister said the continued presence of the fence is violating his first amendment rights.
Good Friday Vigil Thwarted
The Center for American Liberty helped Mahoney file his lawsuit. “Denying a minister and faithful parishioners the ability to pray outside the U.S. Capitol is unfathomable and violates First Amendment guarantees for traditional public forums,” said CEO Harmeet K. Dhillon in a statement. In his complaint, Mahoney said that filed for a permit to hold a prayer vigil on Good Friday on the sidewalk near the Lower Western Terrace of the Capitol. However, authorities denied his request. The reverend claimed that he held many similar events at the same location in the past, including last year. Despite the coronavirus restrictions last year, Mahoney managed to work with Capitol Police to ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols. “These acts by Defendants have effectively created a no-speech zone in one of the most important public forums in the nation,” the complaint reads.
Capitol authorities fenced off the area surrounding it following the January 6 riots. Mahoney said that the riots form part of the reason he wanted the vigil there. In fact, his lawsuit uses the riots as justification. The vigil is “for the express purpose of beseeching God’s healing from the divisiveness and anxiety lingering over our nation since the tragic events of January 6, 2021,” it read.
Area Still Restricted
Mahoney first applied on February 2 and received a rejection notice on March 24 despite staying in contact with Capitol police. The DC Capitol Police sent Mahoney a reply via email, explaining their denial of his request. They said that the area the Christian minister requested remains restricted so his permit application won’t go further.
As an alternative, the police suggested that Mahoney hold his vigil at a sidewalk area. However, Mahoney said the suggested area is far from the area he wanted. In addition, Mahoney claims that the request denial violates his First Amendment rights to free speech, assembly, and free exercise of religion. Also, he claims that the rejection violated his Fifth Amendment right to due process, It also violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
When Will The Capitol Open?
As the fences remain installed around the Capitol, the area remains a no-speech zone, court documents claimed. However, Mahoney contends that the threat no longer exists. In fact, Mahoney complained DC officials won’t even tell him when the fences will go away or when the sidewalks will open again. “There is no specific threat to the Capitol Building, or surrounding grounds, that warrants, nor justifies, a continuation of the trampling of First Amendment activities on the grounds,” the court filing says.
In addition, Mahoney said that the media, civilians, and even other ministers have access to the grounds after the riots. The minister said that he’s “a peaceful man” and “strongly denounces the criminal conduct by the rioters” last January 6. His vigil, if the authorities allow it, will not pose any threat to anybody.
Watch the Yours News video reporting that a Christian minister is suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris over access to Capitol grounds:
Do you agree with the decision disallowing Reverend Patrick Mahoney to hold a prayer vigil on Capitol grounds? Do you agree that this denial violates his First Amendment rights? Let us know what you think about First Amendment rights Share your comments below.