Appeals court rejects lawsuit over House fines for mask rule – JP


The appellate court on Friday said the lower court was right to dismiss the lawsuit. The D.C. Circuit cited the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, which has been interpreted to give members of Congress criminal and civil immunity for legislative acts that are done as part of their official responsibilities.

“The Speaker, Sergeant-at-Arms, and Chief Administrative Officer have immunity from suit because the adoption and execution of the Resolution are legislative acts protected by the Speech or Debate Clause,” the D.C. Circuit opinion states.

In November 2022, questions from the appellate judges expressed skepticism that courts had the power to tell members how to run the House, which was part of the reason why a district court threw out the lawsuit.

An attorney for the Republican members argued the fines deducted from the pay of the three members violate the 27th Amendment, which prohibits a law that changes lawmaker compensation until after an election.

Douglas Letter, then-general counsel to the House, argued that the chamber has a long history of imposing fines for rule violations, and said it would be a “remarkable ruling” to step in on the House’s ability to fine its own members.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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