Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris Sued Over Capitol’s Refusal to Allow Good Friday Prayer Vigil

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris are two defendants in a lawsuit filed by a Presbyterian minister over the banning of a prayer vigil at the US Capitol.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney filed the suit Tuesday with the US District Court in Washington DC. He claims that the “no-speech zone” surrounding the Capitol, which is still blocked off by fencing and National Guard troops, violates his constitutional rights to free speech, assembly, and exercise of religion. He wants to hold a Good Friday prayer vigil at this location—the same location that he’s held it at for years.

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,” the complaint reads. “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. The sidewalks and other public grounds appurtenant to and surrounding the United States Capitol, traditional public forums, are currently fenced off to the public and have been since January 6, 2021. Plaintiff’s speech has been unconstitutionally deemed unworthy by the defendants.”

In closing the sidewalks and public areas around the Capitol, including the Lower Western Terrace plaintiff seeks to utilize, defendants have effectively created a no-speech zone around the nation’s Capitol. 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 the public sidewalks surrounding these halls of power may once again be utilized for public speech,” the complaint added.

The other defendants in Rev. Mahoney’s lawsuit include the US Capitol Police and Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson.

A lieutenant with the Capitol Police told Mahoney that he could apply to hold the prayer vigil on a certain part of the sidewalk, but Mahoney said that this location is “quite far from where I wanted it to be.”

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