Following the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ordered metal detectors be installed at each entrance to the House floor, and even went so far as to pass a measure requiring members to be screened upon entry, with fines being deducted from their salaries for noncompliance.
Now, two House Republicans who were fined for allegedly violating the screening procedure have filed a lawsuit challenging the speaker’s requirements. According to The Epoch Times, Pelosi made it clear Thursday, however, that she has no intention of removing the metal detectors anytime soon — even if it means getting dragged into court.
In fact, the speaker seemed to imply that the metal detectors could remain at the doors to the House floor well into the future, as she insisted that they would remain in place as long as some “threat” remains present — a threat she is either unwilling or unable to specify.
Metal detectors aren’t going away
During her weekly press conference Thursday, Pelosi was asked about the lawsuit and if there were any plans to remove the metal detectors, to which she simply replied, “No.”
Pressed on whether they would remain indefinitely, the speaker insisted: “No. No. As long as there is a threat, we’ll have to have protection.”
The reporter then asked if there was any sort of “concrete measure” by which the level of threat could be gauged. “I just said no,” Pelosi retorted, according to a transcript.
Republicans file suit
The lawsuit referenced by the reporter was first filed last week by Reps. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), both of whom had been fined under the security screening resolution passed by Democrats back in January. Each also had an appeal to the House Ethics Committee rejected, the Washington Examiner reported.
Named as defendants in the suit, the Examiner said, are House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker, who enforces the screening procedure and issues citations and fines for violations, as well as House Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor, who deducts the imposed fines — $5,000 for a first offense, $10,000 for subsequent violations — from a member’s salary if it’s not paid out-of-pocket.
According to the plaintiffs in the suit, both the screening rules as well as the manner in which the fines are collected are in violation of the U.S. Constitution — namely, Article I, Sections 5 and 6, as well as the 27th Amendment.
Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 reportedly states that members may only be punished for “disorderly conduct,” while Section 6 states that, except in cases of treason, felony, or a breach of the peace, members cannot be detained or inhibited from going to and from the House chamber. The 27th Amendment, meanwhile, states that the salary of members of Congress cannot be altered — either up or down — during the same session in which such a law or resolution on the matter is passed.
Reps. Clyde and Gohmert, who provided examples of how the screening and fines were being selectively enforced against only Republicans, argued that avoiding the metal detectors didn’t rise to “disorderly conduct,” that being detained for the briefing — which has caused some members to miss votes — violated Section 6, and that the fines imposed and deducted in the same session in which the resolution was first passed represented a violation of the 27th Amendment.
Only time will tell if their lawsuit ultimately prevails.