Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to House proxy vote rule

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Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to House proxy vote rule

The Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a Republican lawsuit challenging proxy voting rules in the House of Representatives that have been in place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The rejection of the suit by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) affirms a prior federal appeals court ruling that the judiciary was prohibited from reviewing internal House rules. 

McCarthy took the case to the Supreme Court in September, arguing that proxy voting – in which members submit their votes on legislation and other matters through delegated members when not physically present on Capitol Hill – was unconstitutional. 

“Today, we are asking the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution by overturning Speaker Pelosi’s perpetual proxy voting power grab,” McCarthy said at the time. “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.”

Sen. Kevin McCarthy took the initial argument before the Supreme Court in September.
Sen. Kevin McCarthy took the initial argument before the Supreme Court in September.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

The Californian added that the use of proxy voting “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. Some members have barely voted in person for more than a year.”

Unlike the 435-member House, the 100-member Senate has required that members be physically present to vote throughout the pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Clerk Cheryl Johnson and Sergeant at Arms William Walker were named in the GOP’s filing. 

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on May 27, 2020.
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy speaks during a news conference outside the US Capitol on May 27, 2020.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The suit, launched in May 2020, was initially backed by many Republicans. However, several gradually dropped their support after taking advantage of proxy voting themselves.

Other GOP lawmakers who have used proxy voting said they opposed it on principle. 

“These are rules that Nancy Pelosi has put into place without any discussion with Republicans,” House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) told reporters last week before slamming the speaker as an “authoritarian leader.”

The suit was initiated in May of 2020 and had the backing of several GOP members, however over time, support faded.
The suit was initiated in May 2020 and had the backing of several GOP members, though over time, support faded.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

“When it comes to proxies, the Republican majority and I don’t want to speak to the leader here, but we believe in in-person voting,” she added. “When Republicans went back to the House, that’s what we are committed to do.”

Stefanik voted via proxy earlier this month on the same day she appeared with former President Donald Trump for a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago home.

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