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Judge dismisses Rep. Andrew Clyde’s lawsuit over House security screening fines
Andrew Clyde 2 June 2021.jpg
Rep. Andrew Clyde - photo by Associated Press

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit Aug. 1 filed by Rep. Andrew Clyde regarding fines he incurred for security screening measures to enter the House of Representatives’ chamber, writing that he did not have jurisdiction to rule on the matter.

Following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the House’s acting Sergeant at Arms, Timothy Paul Blodgett, issued a memo requiring people to go through security screening before entering the House chamber.

The memo was later adopted in a House Resolution, which allowed for a $5,000 fine for a first offense and $10,000 fines for subsequent offenses.

Clyde was fined in February 2021 for allegedly not going through the magnetometer and fined $10,000 a few days later for allegedly refusing to be “detained for a secondary screening” by security personnel, according to the judge’s order.

Clyde and other representatives filed a lawsuit claiming the resolution violated 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.”

“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 previously said in a press conference.

The Times reached out to Clyde’s office for response to the judge’s ruling.

The defendants in the case — the House sergeant at arms and the House’s chief administrative officer — argued the case should be dismissed.

The “speech and debate clause” of the U.S. Constitution states “for any speech or debate in either House, (senators and representatives) shall not be questioned in any other place.”

“As discussed above, the security screening, fining, and salary deductions challenged here have a direct nexus to, and are part of an overall scheme regulating, members’ behavior in the lawmaking atmosphere on the House floor,” U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly wrote. 

Because the “speech and debate clause” applies in this situation, “judicial review is precluded,” and Kelly said the court will dismiss the case for “lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”