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Supreme Court Rejects Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Appeal Over Mask Mandates, Forces Her to Pay $100K in Fines

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to three House conservatives, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, by rejecting their appeal over fines imposed for flouting mask mandates on Capitol Hill during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Appeal Dismissed

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The high court declined to hear the constitutional challenge brought by Representatives Greene, Thomas Massie, and Ralph Norman, who sought to contest fines levied for their refusal to wear masks in Congress.

Background of Fines

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Greene, Massie, and Norman were fined $500 each for initial violations of the mask mandate, with subsequent offenses carrying heavier penalties of $2,500.

Greene reportedly faced fines totaling over $100,000, a significant portion of her congressional salary.

Protesting House Rules

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The lawmakers protested the mask rules, which remained in place despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stating that fully vaccinated individuals did not need to wear masks in most public settings.

Vaccination Status

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Norman had been vaccinated, while Massie cited previous Covid-19 infection as grounds for declining vaccination. Greene, however, did not disclose her vaccination status.

Legal Challenges

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Their case was dismissed by a federal judge in D.C. in 2022, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirming the ruling last summer.

The lawmakers argued that the fines violated the 27th Amendment, which regulates congressional salary adjustments.

Constitutional Concerns

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Attorneys for the legislators highlighted concerns about the 27th Amendment, emphasizing the Founders’ intent to prevent pressure on lawmakers by diminishing their pay and impeding their ability to serve.

Pressuring Members

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Their argument was that ‘In addition to concerns about pay increases, the Founders were also greatly concerned that diminishing congressional pay could be used to pressure Members from exercising independent judgment, which could prevent qualified men of modest means from serving in the new national legislature.’

House Counsel’s Response

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With Speaker Nancy Pelosi no longer in office, Speaker Mike Johnson’s counsel invoked the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause, which shields lawmakers from prosecution for legislative activities.

They urged the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court ruling.

Legal Defense Argument

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‘The rule was controversial, and all Members of the current House Leadership voted against it,’ Johnson’s attorneys wrote in court papers. ‘But this case is not about the wisdom of the rule or whether it was based on sound science. Rather, it is about whether Petitioners’ claims are subject to judicial review.’

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