On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge by Republican legislators to the proxy voting protocol set up for the COVID-19 pandemic.
As NBC News reported, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) asked the Supreme Court to overturn the proxy voting regulations last September, “which allow lawmakers to cast votes through a colleague so that they don’t need to be physically present in the House chamber.”
In a September statement, McCarthy said, “[We] are asking the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution by overturning Speaker Pelosi’s perpetual proxy voting power grab. Although the Constitution allows Congress to write its own rules, those rules cannot violate the Constitution itself, including the requirement to actually assemble in person.”
He added, “It was a raw abuse of power from the beginning that was done despite unified opposition from the minority and even members of the majority. Its continuation is an insult to hard working taxpayers who are back at work safely while members of Congress get a pass to skip work but still get paid.”
“The Founders wisely rejected proxy voting because they knew Congress cannot adequately ‘do the business’ of our chambers without deliberating,” McCarthy went on, “and we cannot adequately deliberate without assembling in person. The Senate has managed through the whole pandemic without proxy voting because they know, as we do, that it is unconstitutional. To restore the House to its proper legislative role, the Supreme Court must strike down proxy voting.”
Politico reported that McCarthy and other Republicans filed a lawsuit in May of 2020, saying the proxy voting procedure was “unconstitutional.”
Since the Supreme Court decided not to hear the challenge, a previous ruling by a lower court will hold, meaning that the challenge will not continue.
Politico reported, “The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously agreed that the courts did not have jurisdiction under the Constitution to weigh in on the House’s rules and procedures. That decision upheld an earlier ruling by a Federal District Court.”
In order to participate in proxy voting, legislators have to sign a letter with the House clerk that permits another member to vote for them.
The outlet noted that proxy letters say: “I am unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency.”
Leading House Republicans have stated that they plan to get rid of the procedure if they take back the majority in the elections this fall.
“We believe in in-person voting. When Republicans win back the House, that’s what we are committed to,” GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) recently said at a news conference.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has extended the practice several times. In December, Pelosi prolonged it until February 13, 2022.
“In light of the attached notification by the Sergeant-at-Arms, in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician, that a public health emergency is in effect due to a novel coronavirus, I am hereby extending the ‘covered period’ designated on January 4, 2021, pursuant to section 3(s) of House Resolution 8, until February 13, 2022,” Pelosi wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter at the time, per The Washington Times.