DC Circuit Panel Hears Republicans’ Anti-Mask Bid

November 10, 2022

Three Republican members of Congress urged a DC Circuit panel Wednesday to revive their claims that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) improperly fined them for not wearing masks while on the floor of the House of Representatives, arguing that the fines were unconstitutional and not legislative acts protected from judicial scrutiny.

From January 2021 to February 2022, the Democratic-led House adopted the resolution to fine any member $500 for the first failure to wear a mask on the floor and $2,500 for each subsequent failure. The fine could be deducted from a lawmaker’s net salary.

The House contends that Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) deliberately entered the House without masks on May 18 and 19, 2021.

The Republicans’ attorney Christopher Wiest told the three-judge panel that fining his clients violated the 27th Amendment, which prohibits alterations to Congressional pay. 

However, questions from all three judges on a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit expressed skepticism that courts had the power to dictate to Congress members how to run the House, which was part of the reason why a lower court threw out the lawsuit in March.

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