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Mask Melee in Congress: Supreme Court Says ‘Nope’ to House GOP’s Appeal

In what feels like a plot twist in the ongoing saga of pandemic politics, the Supreme Court recently decided it wasn’t going to wade into a mask-related scuffle that’s been brewing among House Republicans. Picture this: Three GOP lawmakers, Representatives Thomas Massie, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Ralph Norman, found themselves in a bit of a pickle after deciding that the House’s pandemic-era mask rule was not for them. Fast forward through some fines and appeals, and here we are, with the highest court in the land essentially saying, “Thanks, but no thanks,” to reviving their lawsuit.

A Little Rebellion Goes a Long Way

Back in May 2021, when masks were the accessory nobody wanted but everybody needed, these three amigos of the House decided to take a stand against the chamber floor mask mandate. Their act of defiance came with a price tag: a $500 fine for their first maskless foray, with the tab running up to $2,500 for any repeat offenses. Marjorie Taylor Greene, not one to shy away from a fight, ended up with a bill reportedly topping $100,000. That’s a lot of masks!

The Battle Against the Mandate

Why the mask mutiny, you ask? Well, it all boiled down to the trio feeling that the rules were a bit out of step with the times, especially considering the CDC’s guidance that fully vaccinated folks could start enjoying most public spaces mask-free. Of the three, Norman shared that he was vaccinated, Greene kept her cards close to her chest, and Massie played the previous infection card, betting on his antibodies to see him through.

Despite their spirited challenge, the House Ethics Committee wasn’t buying what they were selling and upheld the fines in July 2021. But did that stop our intrepid lawmakers? Of course not.

Taking It to the Courts

After a federal judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit both said “no dice” to their challenge, the Supreme Court was their final hope. The crux of their argument? That docking their pay for mask rule violations was a no-no under the 27th Amendment, which is all about when and how members of Congress can adjust their own pay. Their plea to the Supreme Court was like asking for a referee in a game where the rules seemed to keep changing.

The High Court’s High-Handed Handoff

But alas, the Supreme Court was not moved by their tale of woe and constitutional quandaries. In a move as brief as a congressman’s promise, the court decided to let the lower court’s ruling stand, effectively putting an end to the mask saga without so much as a dissenting whisper. It seems the justices were more interested in leaving the mask mandate melee in the rearview mirror.

The Bigger Picture

What’s fascinating here is not just the kerfuffle over masks but the broader implications of the court’s decision. By stepping aside, the Supreme Court has left some pondering the limits of congressional discipline and the true reach of the 27th Amendment. Could Congress really bring back medieval punishments for rule breakers if they wanted to? Probably not, but it’s an interesting thought experiment.

Maskgate: The Epilogue

As the dust settles on this chapter of congressional history, our maskless mavericks must now face the music (and the fines) without the Supreme Court’s intervention. While the mask mandate itself has been lifted, the debate over its enforcement and the penalties for breaking the rules have left us with a curious tale of rebellion, legal wrangling, and a dash of constitutional intrigue.

In the end, the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case might not make for a dramatic conclusion to the mask saga, but it does remind us that not every battle fought in the halls of Congress will find sympathy in the courts. As for the lawmakers at the center of it all? They’ve earned a footnote in the annals of pandemic politics, a reminder of the time when masks were more than just a health measure; they were a symbol of a nation—and its leaders—grappling with an unprecedented crisis.