- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Three House Republicans who were fined for violating the House’s mask rules are taking their grievances to federal court. 

Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Mr. Massie, who said he was fined $500 for not wearing a mask on the House floor in May, said they filed the suit to make a broader point about government overreach during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We’re 18 months into this, and they’re still trying to use emergency executive power instead of going back to legislatures and passing laws,” Mr. Massie said, referring to Mrs. Pelosi and governors who have issued mask mandates. “It’s about the principle, but the principle is broader. It’s the whole country.”

The lawmakers filed the suit after Mrs. Pelosi denied their appeals.

The suit also targets House Sergeant at Arms William Walker and Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor.

Mr. Massie argued that the fines were unconstitutional because they took funds directly out of the lawmakers’ salaries, which he said would violate the 27th Amendment.

The 27th Amendment prohibits changes to congressional compensation in the middle of the House’s two-year session, which lawmakers are serving.

“The 27th Amendment is, at its heart, an anti-corruption measure, designed to prevent Congress from increasing, decreasing or limiting compensation as a cudgel against political opponents,” states the suit, reviewed by The Washington Times. “Despite this clear and unequivocal prohibition, that is precisely what occurred in this matter.”

Mrs. Greene said she felt the mandate was hypocritical because Mrs. Pelosi was photographed without a mask on the same day the Georgia lawmaker’s fine noted that she had violated House rules.

“It’s nothing but a big show,” Mrs. Greene told The Washington Times. “It’s not about COVID at all. It’s all about her having the gavel on her hand, and her being able to control everybody on the cameras.”

Mrs. Greene also told the Times last week that she “absolutely” believed the rules targeted Republican lawmakers over Democrats.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped its mask mandate in May for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the CDC reversed course on Tuesday, advising vaccinated Americans to wear masks in schools and public indoor spaces with high or substantial transmission of the coronavirus.

Mr. Massie said he has not been vaccinated and as of now does not plan to because he believes he had a natural immunity from getting COVID-19 last year. 

Mrs. Pelosi’s office did not respond to The Washington Times’ request for comment.

The lawmakers are being represented by attorneys Christopher Wiest, Aaron Siri, John R. Garza and Thomas Bruns.

Mr. Siri had been involved in another recent local lawsuit, representing a parent who sued the D.C. Health Department for allowing children over the age of 11 to get vaccinated without parental consent. 

Mr. Wiest also has been involved in COVID-related lawsuits. The lawyer represented parents in Kentucky who had sought lawsuits against school districts in a push to have them return to full in-person learning in February.

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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