Christian minister sues Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris over access to Capitol03/31/2021
A Christian minister is suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, the Capitol Police Board, and the Sergeant of Arms for the Senate — saying he was denied access to hold a Good Friday vigil on the sidewalk surrounding the US Capitol where a fence has been up since the Jan. 6 riots.
Presbyterian Rev. Patrick Mahoney brought the lawsuit in D.C. federal court Monday, claiming their “blanket denial” of his permit application to hold the ceremony violates his First Amendment rights.
“Plaintiff’s speech has been unconstitutionally deemed unworthy by the defendants,” charges the suit, first reported by Fox News.
Mahoney wants to hold the vigil on April 2 at the Lower Western Terrace of the Capitol, “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,” court papers show.
He applied on Feb. 2 and was rejected on March 24 despite being in contact with Capitol police about his application. But they only offered him another spot that’s further away, the court papers say.
Mahoney said that in 2020 he worked with Capitol police to safely hold the vigil “on the Capitol grounds even though COVID-19 was constraining the nation,” the suit says. And he’s held around 30 other events in the same spot throughout the years, the court documents say.
Now with the fences up around the Capitol, it has “effectively created a no- speech zone,” the court documents claim.
This all despite the fact that there is no longer a current threat. And Mahoney says they won’t tell him when the sidewalks will be opened back up, the suit says.
“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.
Further, media, civilians and even other ministers have been allowed onto the grounds since, the suit claims.
The cleric said he’s “a peaceful man” and he “strongly denounces the criminal conduct by the rioters,” and insists he poses no threat if allowed to hold vigil, the court papers say.
Pelosi, Harris, and the Capitol Police Board all did not immediately return requests for comment.
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