Proxy voting has been something that the Democrats have gotten away with for a while – and it’s made it easier for them to avoid heading to DC in the pandemic. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, however, has said that it’s unconstitutional. It destroys the quorum rules, too.
The Supreme Court has finally ruled, but not in the way that McCarthy or the rest of the GOP would have liked.
The rule was set by Nancy Pelosi. Essentially, it allowed the House of Representatives to cast a vote without having to make the trip into DC. The House rules state that a single member can cast a proxy vote for up to ten colleagues. The only requirement is that the individual not present files a letter with the House clerk.
The rule, which was created in 2020, is being praised by Pelosi’s supporters because it allows for social distancing and the spread of COVID-19. Of course, we all know that this is completely ridiculous because the Democrats have been the absolute worst about social distancing. Let’s not forget when Pelosi demanded that a hair salon open up for her in the middle of the pandemic lockdowns, social distancing be damned.
McCarthy followed the lawsuit because he believes that it violates several things. First, it violates the Constitution’s Quorum Clause, which means that it may be impossible to reach a quorum if too many take advantage of proxy voting. Second, it violates the language that indicates that both chambers of Congress “must meet in person.”
The Supreme Court has chosen not to hear the case, which is basically their way of saying that he has no case. They did not release any kind of reason for issuing their decision. However, since they’re not going to listen to the case, it means that Pelosi’s House rule gets to stay in place.
Lower courts had always ruled that they were unable to intervene under the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause. Congress is allowed to set its own rules, and the Clause protects members from lawsuits for any speeches that they give on the House (or Senate) floor.
McCarthy had gone on quite the tirade back in December on the House floor to say that he was going to work to end proxy voting. “If you’re all thinking of running again, for those who win, no more proxy voting. You’re going to have to show up to work.”
McCarthy is right, of course. For the kind of money that Representatives are paid, they have an obligation to the American people. They need to show up on Capitol Hill to make sure that their votes are heard. They can’t just send in a letter like an absentee ballot and expect to get paid like everyone who did show up – and participate in any debates that were held before the voting took place.
The Democrats are the ones using the proxy feature more than anyone – including Colin Allred (D-Texas) who cast 36 votes by proxy in only three short months of the proxy feature becoming available.
And it’s not like any of the proxy votes are being used as a way to avoid DC when dealing with state issues. Most of the ones using proxy votes were due to childcare, healthcare, or for engaging in other activities.
Being a Representative is like any other job. Show up, do the job, and get paid. If you can’t do that, perhaps you should just step down and get a regular job where the nation doesn’t have to depend on you.
Meanwhile, you better believe that McCarthy is still thinking of ways to end proxy voting. He might just have to wait until Pelosi finally leaves the House.