Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a Presbyterian minister has filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. Capitol Police Board, and the Senate Sergeant at Arms for the fence that surrounds the Capitol building, according to Fox News.
Reverend Mahoney claims that the fence violates his First Amendment rights.
In the complaint that Mahoney filed, he stated that he has been trying to hold a prayer vigil for Good Friday on the sidewalk near the Lower Western Terrace of the Capitol, but authorities had denied his request.
“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.
After Jan 6. the Capitol has been fenced off and the National Guard has occupied the area.
Mahoney claims that 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.”
“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’s CEO, Harmeet K. Dhillon, said in a statement.
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An email from Capitol Police to Mahoney obtained by Fox News said that the area where the minister wanted to hold the vigil was “restricted” and therefore his permit request could not be processed. As an alternative, a police lieutenant said Mahoney could apply to hold the vigil at a sidewalk area that Mahoney told Fox News was “quite far from where I wanted to be.”
Mahoney claims that his prohibition from holding the vigil violates his First Amendment rights of free speech, assembly, and free exercise of religion. He also claims violations of his Fifth Amendment right to due process and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Fox News reached out to Pelosi, Harris, and the Capitol Police Board for comment on the lawsuit, but they did not immediately respond.
Mahoney’s lawsuit was brought on his behalf by the Center for American Liberty.