By Katelyn Polantz and Tierney Sneed, CNN
A federal judge has ruled that the House’s mask mandate didn’t violate the First Amendment and dismissed a case from three Republicans who sued Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Capitol Hill administrators over the rule.
Reps. Thomas Massie, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ralph Norman “had myriad means of expressing their stated messages, including wearing masks or other clothing containing the messages they wanted to convey, or making speeches from the House Chamber or elsewhere on the subject,” the judge, Reggie Walton of the DC District Court, wrote in an opinion Wednesday.
The judge also decided that fines members who refused to wear masks incurred didn’t affect their salaries.
Walton wrote that the arguments from the lawmakers about financial penalties they faced into the thousands of dollars for every time they didn’t wear a mask were “vague, generalized, and unsupported.”
The Republicans had claimed that the Pelosi’s use of fines to enforce the mandate violated the 27th Amendment’s prohibitions on changes to members’ compensation without an intervening election, as well as the First Amendment’s free speech protections.
As of last year, Greene had been fined $48,000 for not wearing a mask in the areas of the Capitol where it had been required.
Late last month, US Capitol’s attending physician dropped the recommendation that masks be required in certain areas of the Capitol, with Dr. Brian P. Monahan pointing to dropping Covid-19 case levels in DC in recommending that masks be optional.
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