The COVID-19 crisis brought about many procedural changes and exceptions to long-standing rules everywhere, however, some things are just too sacrosanct in the halls of government.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is petitioning the Supreme Court to overturn proxy voting in the House of Representatives, according to The Hill. A federal appeals court already dismissed the case though McCarthy believes it is unconstitutional.
“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,” McCarthy pointed out in a statement. “To restore the House to its proper legislative role, the Supreme Court must strike down proxy voting.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi instituted the practice of allowing lawmakers to cast votes in absentia in May 2020 to deal with the coronavirus pandemic despite GOP objections at the time. In August 2020, a D.C. district court dismissed the lawsuit, as did a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia three-judge panel this past July citing lack of jurisdiction.
However, McCarthy believes the practice “does violence to the Constitution’s text and tradition” and “creates an unlawful delegation of an absent member’s nondelegable legislative power” according to a lawsuit headed for the high court. Before 2020, it was unprecedented for an absent member to have the means to vote.
“The Framers designed Congress to be a deliberative body that convenes and assembles in person at the seat of government to speak and debate as part of carrying out the People’s business. Face-to-face deliberation is part of the House’s very DNA,” the petition also states.
As expected with this type of novel practice, members have begun abusing proxy voting to facilitate their laziness. While it was intended for ill or quarantining representatives, some lawmakers have co-opted it to extend weekends and vacations rather than show up to work.
Legislators should at least be able to commit to voting in person in Washington, D.C., as their job description dictates. Unfortunately, there’s always a glut of swamp dwellers eager to game the system any way they can — and for some reason, they’re very often Democrats.