A federal appeals court blocked a Republican-led case against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s resolution allowing her members to vote by proxy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a unanimous ruling Tuesday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause protects the independence of the legislature, preventing “intimidation of legislators by the Executive and accountability before a possibly hostile judiciary.”
The court dismissed the case, saying it wouldn’t get involved.
“Indeed, we are hard-pressed to conceive of matters more integrally part of the legislative process than the rules governing how Members can cast their votes on legislation and mark their presence for purposes of establishing a legislative quorum,” wrote Judge Padmanabhan Srikanth Srinivasan, an Obama appointee, for the court.
He was joined by Judges Judith Rogers, a Clinton appointee, and Justin Walker, a Trump appointee.
The top Republican in the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, filed the lawsuit against Mrs. Pelosi, challenging her resolution passed in May 2020 to let members vote by proxy.
He argued the move was unconstitutional and members were required to be present to vote.
The court did not reach the constitutional arguments, instead ruling the judiciary could not get involved.
The resolution has been extended a number of times and is now in place until Aug. 17, allowing members to work remotely.
Mrs. Pelosi has the authority to extend it for another 45 days if she chooses.
A spokesperson for Mr. McCarthy said they plan to appeal. “We are disappointed in the D.C. Circuit’s opinion but look forward to petitioning the Supreme Court for review later this summer,” the spokesperson said.