House

Judge throws out House GOP lawsuit over proxy voting

A federal judge on Thursday threw out a House GOP lawsuit alleging that the proxy voting system approved by House Democrats is unconstitutional.

District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that the constitution's Speech or Debate Clause prohibited lawsuits over Congress' legislative efforts.

"The Court can conceive of few other actions, besides actually debating, speaking, or voting, that could more accurately be described as 'legislative' than the regulation of how votes may be cast," wrote Contreras, who was appointed to the federal district court in Washington, D.C., by former President Obama.

Amid the coronavirus health crisis, House Democrats pushed through a rule change in May that allowed each member to cast proxy votes on behalf of up to ten of their colleagues. It was the first time in U.S. history that either chamber of Congress had allowed members to vote by proxy.

House Republicans, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), sued the same month, arguing that the new system of voting violated the constitution.

"A majority of the House may have voted to ignore what the Constitution demands of it, but this Court may not do the same," the GOP's lawsuit reads.

But in his ruling on Thursday, Contreras did not weigh the merits of the Republicans' constitutional claims, finding only that the case lacked legal standing.

A spokesman for McCarthy did not immediately respond when asked for comment on the decision.

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