In January 2021, the House of Representatives enacted a mask mandate in order to ensure the protection of Members’ and staff’s safety and health.
Several House members who did not comply with the mask requirement were fined. They then challenged such mandate, alleging, inter alia, that it was in breach of their freedom of expression. In fact, according to plaintiffs, by refusing to wear masks they intended to convey several particularized messages (e.g., that mask wearing is not scientifically based nor necessary for the vaccinated or naturally immune).
By decision of 9 March 2022, a federal judge of the District Court of Columbia dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims concluding that any "incidental restriction on the plaintiffs' alleged First Amendment freedoms by requiring them to wear masks while in the House Chamber and imposing fines for their failure to do so is no greater than is essential to the furtherance of the government's interest in limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the House Chamber”.