WASHINGTON, DC – According to reports, a Presbyterian minister has filed a lawsuit against Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, and officials within the US Capitol Police due to the erected fencing outside of the Capitol building preventing this minister from conducting a Good Friday prayer vigil, which he’s held before in the same location previously.
Minister Sues Pelosi, Harris for Blocking Prayer Vigil with Fencing https://t.co/jwEjCmk8rE
— James Hirsen (@thejimjams) April 1, 2021
Reverend Patrick Mahoney filed his complaint in federal court on March 30th, alleging that the fencing around the Capitol building – as well as being denied the request via a submitted permit to hold the prayer vigil on the sidewalk near the Lower Western Terrace – is infringing upon his First and Fifth Amendment rights.
According to the complaint filed, Reverend Mahoney had held a Good Friday prayer service in the exact same location back in 2020:
“Plaintiff’s application for a permit to hold a Good Friday prayer vigil is in the exact same location where he held his Good Friday prayer vigil in 2020. In 2020, Plaintiff worked with Capitol Police to ensure that he was able to safely hold a prayer vigil on Capitol grounds even though COVID-19 was constraining the nation.”
Further along within the complaint, Reverend Mahoney showcases that as a result of the fencing being erected around the Capitol building due to what transpired on January 6th, that the “defendants have effectively created a no speech zone around the nation’s Capital.”
Nancy Pelosi and Capitol leadership cannot convert a traditional public forum—the Capitol grounds—into a no-speech zone where even prayers on #GoodFriday are prohibited.
The fence surrounding Fort Pelosi must go…or at least be moved to allow for peaceful expression. https://t.co/D8LWwWUZkk
— Mark Trammell (@mark_trammell) March 30, 2021
It’s been nearly three months since the riot at the Capitol building, and Reverend Mahoney’s lawsuit specifically points out that the defendants in the suit are effectively trampling upon First Amendment rights to a perceived threat that can no longer be specified:
“Defendants prevent any First Amendment activities on/in these areas, even though no specific threat to the Capitol has been identified in justification.”
“Defendants further refuse to inform the Plaintiff of when public sidewalks surrounding these halls of power may once again be utilized for public speech.”
Back when Reverend Mahoney attempted to acquire the permit to hold the Good Friday prayer vigil, an email from Capitol Police to the Reverend showcased that police officials had deemed the area he wanted to occupy as “restricted.”
When speaking to a Capitol Police Lieutenant, Reverend Mahoney alleged that he was informed by the lieutenant that if he wanted to hold any sort of vigil on a sidewalk area within the capital that it would have to be “quite far from where I wanted to be.”
Nancy Pelosi & Kamala Harris banished citizen prayer from the Capitol grounds. @Liberty_Ctr sued today on behalf of Reverend Pat Mahoney to restore his 1st Amemendment rights. If any place in America needs God, it’s that building. Sign the petition here! https://t.co/zQQO3OfsDv
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) March 31, 2021
Harmeet K. Dhillon, CEO of the Center for American Liberty and who is legally representing Reverend Mahoney, stated the following about the lawsuit:
“If there was ever a location in need of divine intervention, of God’s favor and wisdom, it would be the U.S. Capitol where legislators from across the country gather to pass laws that have a profound impact on virtually every aspect of our lives.”
“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.”
The Center for American Liberty is reportedly seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction from the court that would require the Lower Western Terrace and Lawn be open for forms of public expression.
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Earlier in March, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report about how the outer perimeter of the fencing was slated to be removed from the Capitol – which it was – however, therein lies the smaller, remaining fencing surrounding the Capitol building itself.
Here’s that previous report.
WASHINGTON, D.C.- In an email to members and staff, Acting House Sergeant-at-arms Timothy P. Blodgett announced that by Monday, March 22nd, Independence and Constitution Avenues will be open to traffic.
“Outer fencing surrounding the U.S. Capitol complex will be removed this weekend, with acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy P. Blodgett admitting there is no “credible threat” that “warrants” the perimeter.”https://t.co/hNLR0TDdZ2
— ELIXIR OF QUININE 🙏🇺🇲 (@long_woke) March 20, 2021
According to reports, the fencing will remain around the Capitol Square area while the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) makes security repairs to the Capitol. Blodgett emphasized that:
“There does not exist a known, credible threat against Congress or the Capitol Complex that warrants the temporary security fencing.”
Reportedly, the department and the AOC began scaling back the fencing earlier in the week to include removing the razor wire from both outer and inner fences. In his email, Blodgett outlined access to the streets around the complex, the garages, and the office buildings.
The National Guard is drawing down its troops from around 5,000 to 2,280, which is the number currently authorized through May 23rd. Regarding the National Guard, Blodgett said:
“The troops will continue to maintain a presence to support our increased security posture although their presence has been modified to support a reduced perimeter.”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 20, 2021
He added that the Capitol Police “will continue to monitor the posture and should a change occur, plans will be reevaluated.” Some members of Congress have been pushing for the fence to come down for weeks.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and 41 House Republicans introduced a bill on Friday, March 19th, that would essentially wind down the National Guard presence and open up the campus to constituents.
In a statement, McCarthy said it was “unfair” to the National Guard troops and taxpayers to “continue to keep them stationed here despite the lack of credible security threats.” He added:
“It is also time to tear down the barricades around the Capitol complex. We must take down the fencing, commence public tours, and restore normalcy.”
According to reports, congressional leaders are discussing a new $2 billion funding package that would bolster security around the Capitol.
A source familiar with the “talks” said that a permanent fence around the Capitol, hundreds of new security personnel, and new authorities for the D.C. National Guard to be dispatched in emergency situations are among the many details that are being considered.
— The Point (@TPNN_ThePoint) March 20, 2021
Many of the said recommendations stem from a task force report led by retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré, who was appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to examine the security “failures” on January 6th and propose changes.
McCarthy and other Republicans have slammed Honoré, who was appointed without Republican consultation. McCarthy said:
“I don’t think Honoré should have been in charge of this, based upon his comments, not long ago, but short ago. He had a preconceived notion that was wrong, so I disregard the report entirely because of that.”
Lawmakers in both parties have raised objections to an extended deployment of National Guard troops at the Capitol and the prospect of the razor-wire fencing surrounding the complex remaining up indefinitely.
Pelosi has recently reiterated her desire to create an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the events that took place on January 6th. However, creating a new commission still faces serious hurdles as the two parties are at odds over the scope of what the commission would exactly investigate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the security presence and fencing at the Capitol reminds him of his last visit to Kabul, Afghanistan. He said that it looks “terrible” to have the “beacon of democracy” surrounded by National Guard troops and razor wire.
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Author: Gregory Hoyt