OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
A Presbyterian minister is suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, the U.S. Capitol Police Board, and the Senate Sergeant at Arms over the continued presence of a fence blocking off the area surrounding the Capitol building.
Rev. Patrick Mahoney says in his complaint that his First Amendment rights have been violated because he has been unable to hold prayer sessions.
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.
Following the mayhem from Jan. 6, the U.S. Capitol largely remains on lockdown. The National Guard was called in and fencing was erected around the Capitol.
“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.
Mahoney stated in the lawsuit that it 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.”
An email from Capitol Police to Mahoney said the area where the minister wanted to hold his events has been “restricted” for three months, so they denied his permit.
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’s lawsuit was brought on his behalf by the Center for American Liberty.
“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.
Mahoney flat-out declares in his complaint that the defendants have eliminated “one of the most important public forums in the nation.”
Consider this: one has to wonder if a Black Lives Matter organizer would’ve been denied if they wanted to hold an event of some kind near the Capitol.
All the Reverend wants to do is spread a message of hope and peace in a time where the nation is deeply divided.
Mahoney said 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.”
Conservatives claim that this is nothing but political theater and that Democrats are only keeping the restrictions in place to cast the Republican Party in a bad light.
It’ll be interesting to see how Mahoney’s lawsuit proceeds because it could set a precedent moving forward in the ongoing battle for Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion.