OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
A federal appeals court has tossed a Republican lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over House proxy voting.
In a 12-page opinion, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled unanimously that courts did not have jurisdiction under the Constitution to get involved with rules and procedures implemented in Congress.
Republicans filed the lawsuit to end Pelosi’s proxy voting system adopted by the House to allow for remote legislating because of the coronavirus.
“The district court dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction,” Sri Srinivasan, the court’s chief judge, wrote on behalf of the panel.
“The court concluded that the resolution and its implementation lie within the immunity for legislative acts conferred by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause. We agree, and we thus affirm the district court’s dismissal of the case,” Srinivasan added.
During the pandemic, Pelosi has given representatives the option to vote on legislation in person or by proxy, meaning they don’t have to be physically present at the Capitol if they pick another lawmaker to vote on their behalf.
Several Republican lawmakers have come out against proxy voting.
“Nearly a year ago to the day, you made the decision to close the Capitol to visitors and begin implementing new protocols to govern access and movement of the members and staff of the Capitol complex. But since that time, we have learned more about the virus and have made monumental strides in our scientific and technological endeavors,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said earlier this year after he filed the ultimately unsuccessful 2020 lawsuit against Pelosi over the proxy-voting rule.
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz surprised many earlier this year when he defended proxy-voting.
“Some will say that remote voting will erode the quality of legislative debate. Defending its current quality would be difficult. During virtually every debate, congressional participation is so low that staff members from both parties are told to sit in the camera frame to avoid the chamber looking empty. On virtually no days do lawmakers outnumber unelected staff on the floor of the People’s House during debate,” Gaetz said.
“To put it bluntly, after four years in Congress, I’m convinced that time in Washington doesn’t make any of us better. Time at home reminds us of our priorities and our purpose. All humans innately want to please those who are in our proximity. If we spend more time with our constituents, we will be a more representative body. Congress can’t drain the swamp if its members primarily spend time wallowing in the mud with swamp monsters,” he added.