SCOTUS Rejects Appeal Over House Mask Fines

3 Republicans challenged fines for not wearing masks on House floor in 2021
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 20, 2024 9:48 PM CST
SCOTUS Rejects Appeal Over House Mask Fines
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene listens during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 30, 2024.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected appeals from three House Republicans who challenged fines for not wearing face coverings on the House floor in 2021. The justices did not comment on leaving in place $500 fines issued in May 2021 to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, the AP reports. The mask requirement was part of the House's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the mandate remained in place even after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance noting that "fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing."

The lawmakers showed up on the House floor without masks, even posing for a selfie. The requirement was lifted in June 2021. Lower courts had refused to disturb the fines, ruling that courts lack the power to review the mask policy. Lawyers for House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, had urged the court to reject the appeal from fellow Republican representatives, though they noted that Johnson and every other member of the Republican leadership voted against the mask policy.

The lawmakers were fined $500 for a first offense and $2,500 for subsequent offenses, with the money withheld from their pay. Greene's fines ballooned to more than $80,000. The lawmakers argued that the pay deductions violated the 27th Amendment, the Hill reports. The amendment was ratified in 1992, more than 200 years after it was first submitted to states. It says laws changing compensation for members of Congress cannot take effect until after an election. (More mask mandates stories.)

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