A prominent pro-life pastor sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week for allegedly refusing to allow him to hold a prayer vigil on Good Friday near the U.S. Capitol.
Fox News reports the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition and a well-known pro-life advocate, filed the lawsuit Tuesday against Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. Capitol Police Board and the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms.
Pelosi and other Democrat leaders restricted access to the U.S. Capitol after protesters broke into the building on Jan. 6. Members of the National Guard have been stationed in the city for months, and a large fence erected around the Capitol grounds remains in place.
“These acts by Defendants have effectively created a no-speech zone in one of the most important public forums in the nation,” Mahoney, a Presbyterian minister, contended in the lawsuit.
He accused Pelosi, Harris and others of violating his rights to free speech and religious freedom by refusing to allow him to hold a prayer vigil on a public sidewalk near the Capitol.
Mahoney said he wants to host the service on Good Friday on the sidewalk near the Lower Western Terrace of the Capitol. He said the event 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.”
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Last year, Mahoney said he held a prayer vigil at the same location during the COVID-19 pandemic and worked with Washington, D.C. police to make sure that the event complied with safety restrictions.
“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,” the lawsuit states. “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.”
Harmeet K. Dhillon, CEO of the Center for American Liberty, which is representing Mahoney, called the restrictions “unfathomable.”
“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,” Dillon said in a statement.
Mahoney is well-known in the pro-life movement. Among other things, he helped to organize a burial and prayer service for the aborted babies who were victims of notorious Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. In 2013, Gosnell was convicted of murdering three newborn babies, contributing to the death of a female patient and committing numerous other crimes.