Supreme Court Turns Down Case Concerning House Mask Violations

The Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to revive a lawsuit brought by three House Republicans whose pay was reduced for failing to adhere to a pandemic-era mask requirement on the chamber floor.

In a succinct order devoid of any recorded dissents, the court upheld a previous decision that dismissed the constitutional challenge filed by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.).

The trio of conservative lawmakers incurred a $500 fine in May 2021 for disregarding the House floor mask mandate implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic, initiating a protracted effort by the lawmakers to contest the penalties.

House regulations imposed a $500 fine for the initial violation of the mask mandate and $2,500 for subsequent breaches, deducted from their annual pay. Greene accrued over $100,000 in fines, as reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The lawmakers protested the House floor mask mandate, citing recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stating that fully vaccinated individuals generally do not need to wear masks in most public settings. At the time, Norman claimed vaccination, Greene declined to disclose her status, and Massie cited COVID-19 antibodies acquired from a prior infection as reason for abstaining from vaccination.

The Republicans appealed the sanctions later in the year, but the House Ethics Committee upheld them in July 2021. In 2022, a federal judge in D.C. dismissed the trio’s lawsuit, contending that their case lacked merit since then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other enforcers of the mask mandate could not be subject to legal action for decisions made in their capacity as government officials. In June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed the decision.