Minister Sues Capitol Police for Allegedly Blocking His 9/11 Vigil

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 13: The U.S. Capitol Building is pictured during a candlelight vigil marking National Police Week on May 13, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Center for American Liberty recently filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Capitol Police on behalf of a reverend barred from hosting a 9/11 vigil on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol on September 11.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a long-time Christian activist in the pro-life movement, was allegedly being denied the ability to conduct the event in the traditional public forum on the Western Front Lawn of the capitol’s grounds.

Consistent with his religious views, at the event, Mahoney planned to ask God to “protect and watch over America and bring healing to our world and build bridges to our Muslim neighbors,” the suit read.

The case’s complaint continued:

The Government has devised and operates a permitting scheme under which persons seeking to conduct demonstration activity on the Capitol Grounds in groups of twenty (20) individuals or more must obtain a permit to do so. While the Government has permitted other events on the Capitol Grounds over the past several weeks—including at least one event on the Western Front Lawn—it failed to grant Rev. Mahoney’s permit application to hold his proposed prayer vigil without meaningful explanation, other than to say that area was “closed.”

This proffered justification is untrue. Although the Western Front Lawn was “closed” after the events of January 6, 2021, the fence enclosing the Western Front Lawn was removed in July 2021. By allowing multiple other demonstrations to proceed while not affording Rev. Mahoney the same opportunity, the Government is discriminating against Rev. Mahoney based on the content of his speech in violation of the First Amendment.

“It is antithetical to the Constitution for unelected government bureaucrats and others to exhibit unfettered discretion over who is allowed to assemble on Capitol Grounds and who may not,” Center for American Liberty CEO Harmeet K. Dhillon said.

“Denying a minister and faithful parishioners the ability to pray outside the U.S. Capitol in the memory of the 9/11 tragedy is unfathomable while Congresswoman Cori Bush and others are allowed to protest at the exact same location,” she added.

In a video shared Sunday, Mahoney asked for prayer:

In March, the minister filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Vice President Kamala Harris, and officials with the U.S. Capitol Police, citing the claim the fence blockade around the Capitol building prevented him from hosting a Good Friday prayer vigil.

“Rev. Patrick Mahoney filed his complaint in federal court Tuesday, arguing his First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated when authorities denied his request to hold the prayer vigil on the sidewalk near the Lower Western Terrace of the Capitol,” Breitbart News reported.

The case is Mahoney v. U.S. Capitol Police Board, No. 1:21-cv-2314 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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