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Judge dismisses Republican challenge to House proxy voting resolution

Judge dismisses Republican challenge to House proxy voting resolution
A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a challenge to a resolution allowing members of the House to vote by proxy amid the pandemic. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Thursday tossed out a Republican challenge to the proxy voting system approved by House Democrats amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras denied the GOP motion for an injunction against the historic proxy voting system stating that the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution prohibits lawsuits regarding the legislative efforts of Congress.

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"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," Contreras wrote.

Contreras did not weigh in on the constitutionality of proxy voting in his decision.

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The Democrat-held House passed a resolution in May, temporarily allowing lawmakers to vote remotely by proxy and for committee proceedings to take place remotely.

About two weeks later, the chamber conducted the first proxy vote in its 200-year history, approving legislation calling for sanctions against Chinese officials for the detention of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, with more than 70 Democrats designating a lawmaker to cast a vote on their behalf.

House Democrats said the provision would allow lawmakers to stay home and maintain social distance, measures meant to protect them from the coronavirus.

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No Republicans designated proxies in the vote and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and 20 other GOP lawmakers filed a lawsuit, challenging the practice as unconstitutional.

"This is not simply arcane parliamentary procedure. It is a brazen violation of the Constitution, a dereliction of our duty as elected officials and would silence the American people's voice during a crisis," McCarthy, R-Calif., said at the time. "Although I wish this matter could have been solved on a bipartisan basis, the stakes are too high to let this injustice go unaddressed."

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