While Rev. Patrick Mahoney held a similar vigil outside the Capitol last year, the National Guard is still restricting access to the building due to the January 6 riot.
A Christian minister has filed a lawsuit demanding access to the US Capitol grounds for a vigil on Good Friday.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this week by Presbyterian Rev. Patrick Mahoney, according to the New York Post.
Mahoney, the Post said, asked for permission to hold a vigil outside the US Capitol. However, his application for a permit to demonstrate was denied as the National Guard continued to restrict movement around and outside the building.
Mahoney’s lawsuit alleges that the government’s “blanket rejection” of his application for approval violates his initial adjustment rights.
“The plaintiff’s speech was deemed unconstitutional by the defendants,” the lawsuit said.
Mahoney claims he has held similar events on or near the Capitol in the past.
For example, last year Mahoney worked with the Capitol Police to ensure his Good Friday vigil was compliant with Washington DC and federal government coronavirus guidelines. Mahoney was unable to obtain further permits for Good Friday, celebrated today, April 2nd. He went to court.
“These actions by the defendants effectively created a no-language zone in one of the country’s most important public forums,” the lawsuit said.
Main building; Image via Unsplash.com.
Mahoney’s application was rejected not least because of the January 6 unrest in and around the United States Capitol. Thousands of Trump supporters got excited outside the building before breaking through the Capitol. Once inside, they fought law enforcement, ransacked congressional offices, and forced a joint session of Congress to evacuate.
The uprising caused extensive property damage and numerous injuries; five people died.
Since the riot, the National Guard has fenced off the area around the Capitol and the government has been cautious about allowing further demonstrations.
Mahoney claims, however, that the shock of the riots inspired him to hold another vigil, stating in the lawsuit that this “is the express purpose of soliciting God’s healing from the division and fear that have raged over us since the tragic events of January Nation Rule 6, 2020. “
Mahoney is represented by the Center for American Liberty.
In a statement reprinted by Fox News, Harmeet K. Dhillon, CEO of the center, said it was “unfathomable” that a minister should not hold services outside the Capitol.
“It is unfathomable to deny a minister and loyal parishioner the opportunity to pray outside the US Capitol and it violates the First Amendment guarantees on traditional public forums,” said Dhillon.
Mahoney also claims that he is a “peaceful man” who condemns the January 6 rioters’ actions.
Since then, he has suggested that the threat to the Capitol is over and that there is no compelling reason for the National Guard and federal government to further restrict peaceful demonstrations.
“There is no specific threat to the Capitol or the surrounding area that justifies or warrants a continuation of the trampling of First Amendment activities on the premises,” said Mahoney’s lawsuit.
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The Christian minister is suing Pelosi, Harris, over Good Friday access to the Capitol grounds