Minister: ‘No Functioning First Amendment’ at ‘Fort Pelosi’

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Pelosi discussed her reasons for rejecting two Republicans chosen by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to be on the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church who was barred from holding his Good Friday service on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol said permits for peaceful First Amendment events are still being denied in the area, even though the fence surrounding the Capitol has come down.

“There is no functioning First Amendment at the U.S. Capitol,” read the headline of a press statement put out Thursday by Christian Defense Coalition, directed by Rev. Patrick Mahoney.

“Speaker Pelosi has turned the ‘People’s House,’ into ‘Fort Pelosi,’” Mahoney said. “The US Capitol Building must be a place where all Americans are afforded the right to come and peacefully celebrate and express their First Amendment Rights. Tragically, those rights and freedoms are being denied and prohibited.”

Mahoney, a human rights activist, filed a complaint in March against Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, and officials of the U.S. Capitol Police, claiming the former fence blockade surrounding the Capitol building prevented him from conducting his Good Friday prayer vigil.

He had been permitted to conduct his service the previous year, even with restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the fence is gone and citizens are now permitted on the grounds, officials continue to deny permits for peaceful First Amendment events, the statement said:

Rev. Patrick Mahoney was told by the U.S. Capitol Police this week that no permit applications to hold peaceful First Amendment activities were being processed by the U.S. Capitol Police Board even though the grounds are now open to the general public.

Rev. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, has applied for permits to hold several free speech events at the Capitol over the next several weeks and was told his permits were not being processed.

Mahoney and his attorney, Brian Chavez-Ochoa, who argued the minister’s case in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, remarked on the ease with which American citizens’ First Amendment rights are being dismissed by Pelosi.

Mahoney said that despite the fact that business is being conducted as usual at the Capitol, “the only activities being prohibited at the U.S. Capitol are peaceful First Amendment events.”

“We call for Speaker Pelosi to immediately return the ‘People’s House’ back to the people,” he asserted.

Chavez-Ochoa said he and Mahoney are “shocked and dismayed at the complete and utter trashing of the First Amendment rights on the U.S. Capitol grounds by Speaker Pelosi.”

“Never in our history have peaceful voices been silenced in front of our elected officials,” he said. “We are considering all our legal options to ensure this injustice is not allowed to stand.”

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