Court Dismisses GOP Lawsuit Against Remote Voting in Covid Pandemic

Photo: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Photo: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn the House’s adoption of proxy voting. The option of remote voting is proposed by Democrats to permit members to cast votes from their district to avoid traveling during the coronavirus crisis.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s had filed the lawsuit, contending that the proxy voting rules improperly dilute the voting power of members who show up.

Republicans also argued that the Constitution’s requirement that the House have a quorum to do business required a “physical” presence in the Capitol, and that any other interpretation would defeat Congress’ purpose.

However, Washington, D.C., federal district court Judge Rudolph Contreras found that McCarthy’s suit was out of bounds because courts have no ability to review purely legislative functions.

The court judgment affirmed the sweeping power of the House to set its own rules and processes without other branches of government getting involved.

The House adopted its proxy voting process in May. It has empowered Speaker Nancy Pelosi to designate 45-day periods in which proxy voting is permitted, so long as the national coronavirus emergency remains in effect.

Under the plan, lawmakers who certify they are unable to travel to Washington are permitted to designate a colleague to cast a vote for them. Under the procedures, these designated colleagues must vote the way the absent lawmakers require.

Speaker Pelosi expressed her satisfaction after House Republicans’ lawsuit to block remote voting by proxy during coronavirus pandemic was dismissed in the district court.

“Remote voting by proxy is fully consistent with the Constitution and more than a century of legal precedent, including Supreme Court cases, that make clear that the House can determine its own rules. The nation is in the middle of a dangerous pandemic and the House of Representatives must continue to work,” Speaker Pelosi said in a statement released Thursday (August 6).

She added that the dismissal of the House GOP lawsuit is welcome news and hopefully the end of this sad Republican effort to obstruct the House from meeting the needs of the American people during the coronavirus crisis.

According to official figures – which may be understated – the U.S. as of today (August 8) has 5 million coronavirus cases while more than 160,000 people have died. While President Trump has completely ignored the devastation being caused by the virus, it is spreading rapidly in all parts of the country including rural areas.

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Rakesh Raman