Federal Appeals Court Rules Sternly Against Kevin McCarthy

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A federal appeals court has ruled against House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) in a lawsuit he brought against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), challenging rules that the House put in place allowing for proxy voting by members amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against McCarthy in this instance, concluding — just as a lower court did — that the House has the authority under the Constitution to set its own rules. Now, McCarthy is apparently planning to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

McCarthy alleges that the proxy voting system in the House is unconstitutional. As Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) put it, expressing a similar position, proxy voting is supposedly “an unconstitutional attack on a functional Congress — allowing members to avoid their responsibility to meet in DC to do their jobs.” In the new appeals court ruling, Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote that the “district court dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction,” explaining that the appeals court backs this conclusion. As the judge put it:

‘The court concluded that the Resolution and its implementation lie within the immunity for legislative acts conferred by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause. We agree, and we thus affirm the district court’s dismissal of the case.’

McCarthy spokesperson Michele Exner said that the House GOP leader’s team is “disappointed in the DC Circuit’s opinion but look forward to petitioning the Supreme Court for review later this summer.” Apparently, at least half a million has already been spent on the anti-proxy voting lawsuit. Notably, despite McCarthy’s opposition to proxy voting, Republican members of the House, including certain high-profile names, have utilized the procedure, which allows for members to vote on other members’ behalf, keeping in-person congestion in the House chamber low. Those Republicans in the House who’ve used voting by proxy include Reps. Jim Banks (Ind.), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), and Matt Gaetz (Fla.).

House Republicans have repeatedly occupied themselves with issues that fundamentally do not relate to actual, substantive needs of everyday Americans.