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D.C. court of appeals throws out Republican lawsuit against House proxy voting

Vaccinated lawmakers in both parties have begun opting out of in-person appearances, because of the speaker's rule.

Updated: July 21, 2021 - 10:36am

A federal appeals court has dismissed a GOP lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sought to undo the proxy voting system adopted by the lower chamber during the coronavirus pandemic, which allows for increased remote voting and lawmaking.

A three-judge panel in D.C. ruled unanimously Tuesday that courts do not have the jurisdiction to interfere with the House's rules and procedures – the decision upheld an earlier ruling by a Federal District Court. The Republicans were attempting to argue that the proxy voting system that has been in place for more than a year, is unconstitutional. 

Republicans will now have to decide whether they wish to appeal the ruling to the full U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. (or the Supreme Court), or drop the case entirely. The three-judge panel that decided to drop the case was made up of judges appointed by presidents from across the political spectrum. 

Democrats maintain that the proxy system is necessary for health and safety reasons. Beyond the health precautions, proxy voting means that, as the midterm election approaches, members are able to spend more time out on the campaign trail and less time in the nation's capital actually performing their lawmaking duties. In the last year, dozens of Republican lawmakers have begun casting votes by proxy as well. 

The speaker must extend the current proxy voting rule – which exists as an act of emergency authority – every 45 days. In mid-August Pelosi will have to re-extend the rule. 

A speaker's aide testing positive this week for the virus, as its more contagious delta variant spreads across the U.S., increases the likelihood Pelosi will extend the rule.

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