Two House Republicans filed a federal lawsuit Monday over thousands of dollars in fines imposed due to violations of the House’s metal detector rules.
Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., filed the suit in Washington, D.C. federal district court through attorney Ken Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general and Trump administration official, the Washington Examiner reported.
The defendants named were House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker and Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor.
The lawsuit is the most direct challenge yet to a set of security measures put in place by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democrat leadership after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Gohmert was issued a $5,000 fine and Clyde received $15,000 in fines by then-House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett for “failure to complete a security screening” before entering the House chamber.
After appeals, the House Ethics Committee upheld the fines.
Gohmert and Clyde argue Walker and Szpindor violated the 27th Amendment of the Constitution, which states, “No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”
The lawmakers say imposing and collecting fines reduces a member’s salary during his or her term. They also argue the penalties violate a constitutional provision saying representatives cannot be arrested while performing their congressional duties.
The lawsuit cites Article I, Sections 5: “Each House … may punish its members for disorderly behavior.” Furthermore, Article I, Section 6 states, “[Representatives] shall in all cases, except treason felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at their respective Houses and in going to and returning from the same.”
“It is clear to me that the intent of the speaker is to gain improper influence over the actions of the minority Republican Party and to further speaker Pelosi’s false political narrative,” Clyde told reporters Monday, according to the Examiner. “That, and I quote, the enemy is within the House of Representatives, House Resolution 73 is a failure of logic built upon a foundation of Democrat lies that say Republican members and their voters are dangerous domestic terrorists.
“In fact, the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Yogananda Pittman, reported to House Republican Conference members in a security briefing on February the 24th that there existed no known intelligence from any source that any member of Congress was a threat to any other member, thereby revealing that the use of magnetometers as a condition of access to the house floor was purely political grandstanding by the speaker and a clear violation of the constitution.”
Gohmert and Clyde also noted several times when Republican lawmakers missed votes after being delayed at the metal detectors. Democrat lawmakers who set off scanners, however, were allowed to walk onto the floor to vote without later punishment.
“When you have that kind of power and you can delay Republicans from coming in and not enforce it against Democrats, you have a formula for a third-world, theocracy oligarch. This is insane. This is not the way Congress is supposed to work,” Gohmert said, the Examiner reported.
“And that’s why this kind of stuff has never been done. Even in the 1920s, when the speaker had taken all the power to himself, that was not allowed to stand because part of the majority said we can’t allow this kind of concentration of power in the speaker.”
Six House lawmakers — five Republicans and one Democrat — have been slapped with metal detector fines since the House rule was adopted.