Who is Rev Patrick Mahoney? Pelosi, Kamala Harris sued by preacher who says Capitol fencing violates 1st amendment
Mahoney claimed he was denied access to holding a Good Friday vigil on the sidewalk surrounding the US Capitol where a fence has been up since the January 6 insurrection
A Christian minister is reportedly suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, the Capitol Police Board, and the Sergeant of Arms for the Senate. His accusation -- he was denied access to holding a Good Friday vigil on the sidewalk surrounding the U.S. Capitol where a fence has been up since the January 6 insurrection.
In the complaint filed on Tuesday, March 30, in federal court, he claimed that he has held many similar events at the same location in the past, even in 2020, when he supposedly worked with Capitol Police to make sure the event complied with Covid-19 restrictions.
"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. The minister said that the January 6 violence was part of the inspiration for the vigil, stating 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," that he wants to hold a vigil on April 2 at the Lower Western Terrace of the Capitol.
Who is Reverend Patrick Mahoney?
As per a Guardian report from 2017, Mahoney describes himself as an “outspoken advocate for the struggling and oppressed”. The father of three says he has “worked extensively on ... pressing issues of social justice from a Christ-center biblical perspective.”
The director of the Christian Defense Coalition, he is notably a zealous pro-life campaigner and the former national spokesman for Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group with links to violence at clinics and against abortion providers. In fact, in 1992, he was sentenced to six months in jail with three others for breaching a restraining order prohibiting them from demonstrating in front of abortion clinics in Texas.
Mahoney is also reportedly a founding board member of the US anti-abortion healthcare provider Stanton Healthcare, which helps women with “challenging pregnancies”, including encouraging rape victims to give birth.
Mahoney, the Guardian reported, claims to be a “champion for protecting religious freedom around the world”. He was arrested twice in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during the Beijing Olympics after marching with banners declaring “Jesus Christ is King”.
As per Mahoney’s court filing, “There is no specific threat to the Capitol Building, or surrounding grounds, that warrants, nor justifies, a continuation of the trampling of First Amendment activities on the grounds.” The suit added that media, civilians, and even other ministers have been allowed onto the grounds since the violence. He said he is “a peaceful man” and he “strongly denounces the criminal conduct by the rioters,” all the while insisting that he poses no threat if allowed to hold the vigil.
Mahoney's lawsuit was brought on his behalf by the Center for American Liberty, a charitable organization that claims to be “fighting against growing anti-free speech and anti-civil liberties trends.” The center's CEO, Harmeet K. Dhillon, said in a statement: "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.”