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Two Republican lawmakers have filed a lawsuit to block fines imposed against them for bypassing metal detectors placed outside House chambers earlier this year in response to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The lawmakers, GOP Reps. Louie Gohmert (Texas) and Andrew Clyde (Ga.), attempted to appeal their fines earlier this year but were unsuccessful, even as Democratic House Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) and another Republican colleague saw their fines dropped.
Gohmert and Clyde argue that the steep fines — proposed by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and passed by the Democrat-controlled chamber in January — are nothing more than a tool used to target Republicans. Gohmert has been fined $5,000 for his one offense, while Clyde faces $15,000 in fines for two offenses.
The lawsuit, filed in the D.C. district court late Sunday, asserts that the fines violate the 27th Amendment, which prohibits docking a lawmaker’s pay during Congress, and Article I, which prohibits the arrest of a lawmaker while traveling to official business.
The lawmakers also argue that the penalties are simply “a means of harassing democratically-elected representatives who are members of the opposition party in the House of Representatives.”
They claim that several Democratic House members — including Pelosi and Reps. Maxine Waters (Calif.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), and Nydia Valezquez (N.Y.) — have also set off the metal detectors, but were waved through by security and never fined.
“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 lawsuit states.
Both Gohmert and Clyde report that they have been prevented from casting votes due to enforcement of the burdensome screening rule.
“It actually sets up a system where they can literally keep Republicans from voting. Now they could keep Democrats from voting, but they never do that,” Gohmert said in a conversation with the Washington Times, adding that “the courts have got to step in.”
“We report to our districts. We do not report to the speaker of the House,” Clyde added.
The first-term Georgia congressman charged Pelosi with “playing political games” in a statement regarding the lawsuit. He also linked to alleged video evidence showing the speaker herself violating the screening rules.
The Hill reported that six House members to date have been issued fines for bypassing security screenings. All but one of have been Republicans.
The outlet added that under the new House rules, lawmakers have 30 days to appeal the fine to the House Ethics Committee, where a majority of the evenly split committee must agree to dismiss a fine. Ties result in the fine being upheld, as was the case for Gohmert and Clyde.