U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, who represents the 9th District, and Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, filed a lawsuit Sunday, June 13 claiming that recent fines levied against them by the House of Representatives were unconstitutional.
The lawsuit charges that HR 73, which established fines against members of Congress who did not pass a security screening before entering the House Chamber, is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit claims that it violates Article I and the 27th Amendment of the Constitution by “selectively and punitively enforcing a House Rule against only Republican Representatives, and engaging in the constitutionally-prohibited reduction of Plaintiffs’ congressional salaries as a means of harassing democratically-elected Representatives who are members of the opposition party in the House of Representatives.”
Clyde was fined a total of $15,000 for two separate times in which he allegedly did not pass proper security screenings, and Gohmert was fined $5,000 for one alleged offense.
Security screenings were put in place shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection caused safety concerns among members of Congress. Metal detectors were installed on Jan. 12 and fines were established in February of $5,000 for a first offense and $10,000 for a second offense.
Clyde said in a press conference at the Capitol Monday morning that these screenings have held up Congress members from arriving on time for their vote.
“The use of magnetometers as a condition of access to the House floor was truly political grandstanding by the House Speaker and a violation of the Constitution,” Clyde said during his press conference.
The lawsuit also claims that the rule has been used to attack Republicans in particular. It claims that multiple members of the Democratic Party, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have violated the security screenings without being fined by the Sergeant-at-Arms, William J. Walker, who is one of the defendants in the suit along with Chief Administrative Officer of the House Catherine Szpindor.
Six members of Congress have been fined for screening violations, and five of them have been Republican. But two of those cases are still pending and the other two were appealed and dismissed by the House Ethics Committee.
The lawsuit states that Clyde entered the House Chamber without proper security screening on two occasions, both instances for which he was fined in accordance with HR 73. His appeal was denied on April 11, according to the lawsuit, and he will have $15,000 deducted from his pay when he fails to pay that fine. This would violate the 27th Amendment, the lawsuit states.
The 27th Amendment 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.”
It also claims that HR 73 violates Article I Section 6 of the Constitution, which states members of Congress, “shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses.”