Gohmert, Clyde sue over House metal detector fines
They claim fines are unconstitutional and are being selectively enforced against Republicans
Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., are claiming that House security rules and punishments are being selectively enforced against Republicans, while Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been able to ignore protocols with impunity.
In a lawsuit filed Sunday, the congressmen claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put the new security measures in place – including metal detectors – specifically to target GOP lawmakers.
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"Upon information and belief, Speaker Pelosi has instituted an unconstitutional policy of enforcing the Screening Rule against only members of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives, and exempting members of the Democratic majority from its enforcement, resulting in only Republican members being fined and having their congressional salaries reduced, all for the purpose of creating a false narrative for the political benefit of the House Democratic majority," the complaint said.
Providing examples, the lawsuit claims that in February Clyde entered the House chamber without going through security screening, and was subsequently informed he was being fined $5,000 even though the following day Pelosi allegedly broke the rules by avoiding metal detectors without facing punishment.
The lawsuit also alleges that Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters, Jamie Raskin and Nydia Velazquez have all set off metal detectors and continued through without security stopping them for further screening.
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Gohmert claims that he too was unfairly targeted as a result of inconsistent enforcement. According to the complaint, on Feb. 3 he had no problem reentering the House chamber after using the men’s room after he had previously gone through screening earlier in the day. The following day, Gohmert claims he was stopped for screening after using the men’s room, informed security that he had already gone through screening and continued on his way, and was then fined.
Additionally, the lawsuit claims that the screening process has delayed several Republicans including Clyde as they rushed to the House chamber, causing them to miss votes. Others, the complaint says, skipped screening to cast their votes and were then fined.
The lawsuit names House Sergeant at Arms William Walker and House Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Catherine Szpindor as defendants for their roles in enforcing the rules. The CAO's office declined to comment on the lawsuit, while Walker's office did not respond to Fox News' requests.
Pelosi's office declined to comment on the lawsuit, but a spokesperson stated that the speaker had been screened with a metal detector wand on the date she allegedly avoided screening.
"The Sergeant at Arms has confirmed there was no violation reported as Republicans allege," Pelosi's spokesperson told Fox News.
The security rules state that if House members do not pay their fines in a timely manner, they will have the penalties taken out of their salaries. Clyde and Gohmert claim that this violates the 27th Amendment’s limits on changing lawmakers’ compensation. The Republican representatives also claim that the rules go beyond the scope of the Constitution’s allowance for punishing House members for "disorderly behavior," and that making members miss votes by detaining them for screening violates their constitutional protection against arrest while at, to, or from a House session absent treason, breach of the peace, or a felony.
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The congressmen seek a court order preventing any further fines or delays.
"The installation of magnetometers at the House Chamber door and the charging of a fine is a blatant attempt to bully House Members and disrupt good order for the purpose of political ‘optics,’" Gohmert said in a statement. "On February 24, 2021, the Acting Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Yogananda Pittman, advised the Republican House Members’ conference meeting stating twice that there was no intelligence from any source that any Member of the House of Representatives was a threat to any other Member of the House."