WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and two other lawmakers are suing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House sergeant-at-arms over fines they received for violating rules on wearing a mask.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Washington’s U.S. District Court on behalf of Greene, Kentucky U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie and South Carolina U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman. Last week, the House Ethics Committee rejected appeals filed by all three representatives over the $500 fines they received after refusing to wear masks on the House floor as mandated by Pelosi as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic.
During a news conference to publicize their legal action, Greene characterized the mask policy as “segregation” and “discrimination” against people who both refused to wear the face coverings but also declined to be vaccinated, according to reporter Eva McKend.
The text of the lawsuit was not yet available, but court records indicate the lawmakers are alleging that their civil rights were violated by the mandate and ensuing fines.
The suit comes as many conservatives have made the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the wearing of masks a part of the culture war, even as new variants of the virus are fueling higher hospitalization and death rates.
Greene was cited in May for refusing to wear a mask when the rules at the time mandated it for everyone on the House floor except those who had been recognized to speak. She and other conservative lawmakers at the time made a point of flaunting their breaking of the rules after receiving warnings.
Masks are currently only required for those who have not been fully vaccinated. Greene said in February that she didn’t plan to get the shots. When asked again by a reporter earlier this month, she refused to say whether she had received the shots and accused the reporter of violating her rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, federal legislation restricting the release of medical information.
The HIPAA laws prevents doctors and hospitals from releasing patients’ health care information without their permission, but it doesn’t preclude individuals from discussing their own health decisions, illnesses or treatment, or prohibit those types of questions.