In a win for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), a judge has ruled that it was lawful for her to impose fines on Congressional Representatives who did not observe her mask-mandate.
Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Thomas Massie (R_KY), and Ralph Norman (R-SC), brought the suit forward; all were fined last year for not observing Pelosi’s mask mandate while in House Chambers.
Newsweek reported the Representatives filed their suit alleging that Pelosi’s mask policy violated their rights to free speech and that the $500 fines they received violated the 27th Amendment of the Constitution.
Judge Reggie B. Walton of the District Court for the District of Columbia disagreed and dismissed the suit. In his 47-page ruling, the judge found that Pelosi’s policies did not violate any constitutional provisions.
Walton noted that the 27th Amendment states: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”
The lawmakers argued that Pelosi had no authority to essentially change their compensation through the imposition of fines, but Walton disagreed.
“Massie, Greene and Norman had attended a vote in the House without wearing masks in May 2021, violating a policy that had been put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were each fined $500.
They sued Pelosi…[and] the sergeant-at-arms and chief administrative officer of the House.
The Republican lawmakers argued that they wanted to “protest against the double standard being enforced” and express “the well-founded beliefs” that mask-wearing was not based on scientific proof and that wearing masks was ‘not necessary for the vaccinated or naturally immune.’
They also argued that imposing those fines on them was prohibited by the 27th Amendment. However, Judge Walton rejected their arguments on Wednesday.”
Walton ruled that the lawmakers’ compensation “is not varied by the deduction of disciplinary fines from the plaintiffs’ paychecks,” owing to a technical definition of the term, compensation.
Walton clarified that “the deduction of fines from the plaintiffs’ paychecks pursuant to House Resolution 38 does not violate the Twenty-Seventh Amendment, and, therefore, the Twenty-Seventh Amendment does not limit the House’s authority to adopt the mask policy…”
In a further blow to the GOP plaintiffs, Judge Walton also rejected their argument that the mask policy was a violation of First Amendment free speech rights and that they were being punished for holding a “contrary viewpoint…”
And in a surprising response to the Representatives’ claim that “recent scientific findings [show] face coverings have no appreciable effect on slowing or halting the spread of COVID-19,” Walton ruled that “the consensus within the scientific community is clear that masks – and, in particular, well-fitting, protective masks – are effective in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”
In a statement to Newsweek on Thursday, Representative Massie said:
“The judge came to the tortured conclusion that collecting mask fines by direct reduction of members’ salaries did not constitute reductions in salary, which is otherwise prohibited by the Constitution.”
Massie then noted his intent to appeal the ruling.
“We are glad to have a ruling that gets us one step closer to the Supreme Court, where we believe a plain reading of the Constitution will clearly show Speaker Pelosi has violated the Constitution,” Massie said.
Representative Greene, who led in bringing forward the suit, has not yet commented on the ruling, but according to the Conservative Brief, is “cruising to re-election with an enormous lead ahead of the GOP primary.”
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