Three GOP House members who had their pay docked for refusing to comply with a COVID-19 mask mandate in Congress asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to hear their case, which was dismissed by lower courts.
According to Axios, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., incurred penalties for repeatedly flouting the House mask requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic. They faced a $500 fine for their first violation and a $2,500 fine for subsequent violations.
The trio contends that their pay deductions violated the Constitution's 27th Amendment, which prohibits congressional salary adjustments from taking effect until after the next election.
Lower courts dismissed their lawsuit, however, which was filed against then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and two House officers.
In dismissing the complaint, the U.S. District Court for D.C. found that Pelosi and the two other defendants were protected by the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause, which shields lawmakers from lawsuits and questioning for things they say or do as part of their legislative work. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court's dismissal.
The lawmakers' appeals to the House Ethics Committee were also denied, according to Axios.
"The D.C. Circuit's opinion ultimately places no limits on Speech or Debate Immunity," the Republican lawmakers' attorneys wrote in their petition to the high court. "To let the D.C. Circuit's opinion stand would be to render the Twenty-Seventh Amendment non-justiciable in violation of this Court and the D.C. Circuit's own precedents and to open the floodgates to unfathomable discipline."
"The House Rules, under this Doctrine, could impose physical punishment, flogging, or even more medieval forms of punishment, upon members and, under the D.C. Circuit's precedent, no judicial remedy would be available, the Eighth Amendment notwithstanding," the petition said.
In the petition, which was reportedly docketed on Monday, Massie, Greene, and Norman acknowledged violating the mask mandate and asked the justices to take up their appeal to reverse the immunity ruling and rule on whether the pay deductions were constitutional.
"One of the few provisions of the Constitution with no interpretation from this Court is the Twenty-Seventh Amendment," the lawmakers' attorneys wrote. "The practical nature of this anti-corruption Amendment renders the occurrence of a circuit split on the matter impossible. But this measure, designed to ensure the independence of members of Congress, the people's legislative body, must have effect."
Nicole Wells ✉
Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.
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