McCarthy v. Pelosi, No. 20-5240 (D.C. Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. In response, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 965 in May 2020, establishing a process under which House Members can cast their votes and mark their presence by proxy if they cannot personally attend proceedings due to the public-health emergency. On May 20, 2020, Speaker of the House Pelosi authorized proxy voting pursuant to the Resolution for a period of 45 days. There have since been several extensions, the most recent of which expires on August 17, 2021. House Minority Leader McCarthy, other Representatives, and several constituents challenged the constitutionality of the Resolution in a lawsuit, arguing that various constitutional provisions require Members to be physically present on the House floor in order to count towards a quorum and cast votes.
The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The Resolution and its implementation lie within the immunity for legislative acts conferred by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause. The Resolution establishes internal rules governing the casting of votes by Members; conduct implementing the latter resolution, including the Clerk’s counting and recording of proxy votes, is itself a legislative act, pertaining directly “to the consideration and passage or rejection of proposed legislation.”