3 members of Congress sue Pelosi over mask fines

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie said Tuesday he and fellow Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ralph Norman are suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after they were fined for refusing to wear masks on the floor of the House of Representatives.

“Nancy Pelosi did this by edict. There’s no law. She changed this rule on her own. She did it unconstitutionally,” Massie, R-Ky., said at a Washington, D.C., press conference announcing their lawsuit.

Pelosi announced the mask rule last year, amid the still-ongoing coronavirus pandemic. House Democrats later approved a rule allowing representatives to be fined $500 for a first offense and $2,500 for the next offense if they flouted the requirement.

The House’s blanket mask mandate isn’t in effect anymore, but Massie got fined $500 for refusing to mask up in May before the rule was lifted. So did Greene, R-Ga., and Norman, R-S.C.

Massie publicized his decision to eschew the mandate, tweeting of Pelosi at the time: “Her rule is not based on science. All you need to know is the mask rule has only ever applied to members when they can be seen on TV!”

All three Republican representatives challenged the fine, but last week the U.S. House Ethics Committee announced they lost their appeals.

Now, they’re suing Pelosi.

In this image from video, Rep. Thomas Massie of Northern Kentucky speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives in March 2020.

“In this case, Nancy Pelosi’s fine against us for not wearing a mask violates the 27th Amendment,” Massie claimed Tuesday.

The 27th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says laws changing the compensation of members of Congress can’t take effect in the middle of a two-year congressional session. (Generally, it’s meant to prevent lawmakers from granting themselves raises mid-term.)

Massie suggested his decision, along with his two colleagues, to sue Pelosi isn’t just a simple fight over getting fined but instead carries greater significance.

“So folks, we are here today not because of $500 in fines but because the American people need somebody to fight and they’re tired of people who won’t fight,” he said. “And we are going to fight, and we have filed this case this morning.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its mask guidance in May to say people vaccinated against COVID-19 could stop wearing masks indoors, though the CDC was set to update that guidance later Tuesday.

Massie, who tested positive for coronavirus antibodies last year, has publicly said he has not gotten vaccinated.