It’s not an exaggeration to say that many Americans no longer recognize their country these days. Free speech is vanishing, the ruling class flaunts its privileges, and ordinary Americans are having their civil liberties restricted. What’s more, months after a menacing fence went up around the Capitol, Washington still resembles a garrison, and Americans can’t freely access the People’s House.
In a troubling sign of the times, a Presbyterian minister lost his fight to hold a Good Friday prayer vigil at the Capitol building after bringing a lawsuit against Vice President Kamala Harris and others, Fox News reported Thursday.
Priest sues Harris
Reverend Patrick Mahoney has never had trouble holding the vigil before — not even last year, when draconian COVID-related restrictions started.
That seems to have changed after a pro-Trump riot at the Capitol in January, which led to a bizarre military build-up in Washington that has continued on the pretext of a dubious right-wing threat. While some of the fencing at the Capitol has come down, it’s not all gone, as the Daily Mail notes.
Mahoney, for his part, told Fox News that the Capitol is not closed, calling that a “misconception,” since access is being treated like a privilege for lawmakers, their staff, lobbyists, and others. “The only thing, tragically, that is being prohibited is peaceful First Amendment activities,” he said.
He also told Fox he is fighting to “return the People’s House back to the people.”
“If they can ban peaceful First Amendment activities at the United States Capitol building, then free speech is in danger all across America,” Mahoney said.
According to the Daily Mail, Mahoney first filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), U.S. Capitol Police, and the Senate sergeant-at-arms to hold the vigil on the lower Western Terrace.
Still, Mahoney says that he is not giving up the fight to liberate the “no-speech zone.”
“[I]n spite of this setback, we will continue to passionately, prayerfully, and peacefully work to see the ‘People’s House’ returned to the people and the First Amendment once again honored and cherished at the United States Capitol,” he said in a statement.
While Mahoney prayed for peace, the Capitol was a deadly scene again on Good Friday after a reported Nation of Islam member carried out a vehicular attack that left one Capitol Police officer dead, according to NBC News.